The Korean-language ICT news site Radio News recently examined the role blockchain could play in combating the forging of academic credentials.
Forging one’s academic background was central to the plot of director Bong Joon-ho’s latest film, “Parasite,” which took the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It’s central to the plot of many real-life news stories too, as demonstrated in a 2007 scandal involving an art professor and curator who was named artistic director of one of Korea’s most important art festivals, only for it to be discovered that she’d completely faked her academic background.
Experts say that blockchain offers a solution to this problem by rendering data permanent and inalterable. The Radio News notes that Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has been showing interest in a blockchain-powered system to stop fake degrees since last year. Such a system would not only render complicated degree verification processes obsolete, but it would also promote security and trust. It could also reduce social costs in all sectors where credentials are needed, including administration, education and finance.
In 2017, MIT Media Lab developed Blockcerts, a blockchain-based academic certificate verification platform. The application allows users to use a digital version of their degree with just a single official certification from their school. Job applicants can submit these digital degrees to potential employers, while companies can pull up and examine these degrees at no extra cost.
The Radio News notes that Korean companies are getting into this space, too.
The first one they mention is ICONLOOP, which released in May its blockchain-based certificate issuance service “broof.” As The Iconist explained when the service launched (and Radio News describes in its article):
Simply put, certificate issuances can occur when the listed data from the issuing authority corresponds with the requestor’s input data. “Once the issuing authority (company or institution) sets the approved recipient list, issuance period and a URL, the recipient can access the URL and enter their name and password to obtain the certificate without going through other lengthy procedures,” states ICONLOOP’s Medium post.
Additional features such as certificate template customization are possible, allowing users to change the color, logo and text on a certificate and to keep track of related statistics. More details of the certificate issuance can then be obtained on the ‘ICON Tracker’, which provides all transactions recorded on the ICON network.
Users have to agree to provide personal information, but they can selectively disclose that info to whoever they are dealing with.
Meanwhile, SK Telecom and LG Uplus are developing decentralized ID services as part of a national blockchain-based digital certification project led by the Ministry of Science and ICT. The two companies aim to create a paperless online certificate verification system by allowing people to use a mobile ID app to safely store, maintain and share important certified information.
Coinplug CEO Ryan Uhr told Radio News that as the world moves from “analog” IDs to digital ones, the need has grown for ways to easily confirm one’s identity sans paperwork. He said blockchain-based identification technology will quickly spread as distributed ledger technology allows users to determine and store identifications, possibly eliminating the need for intermediary steps that one currently needs to take to issue, apply for and receive a certificate.