The next phase of the internet: the era of digital credentials
Imagine being able to get rid of your driver’s license, insurance card, student or employee ID, and more from your wallet. Consider not having to be concerned about losing your passport or vaccination records while traveling abroad or about the validity of the fashionable shoes you just bought. All of this and more is conceivable with the introduction of verifiable digital credentials. Credentials have existed for many years, if not centuries. Obtaining documents to establish a certification, competency, or authority is not a novel concept in and of itself. In truth, we often believe that technological advances will not affect long-standing, deeply ingrained routines. However, it is precisely those routine acts that we carry out without much thinking that can be, and in many cases already are, severely influenced by digitizing credentials. In a nutshell, the digital credentials age has here.
I’ve been using a smartphone for years, and the internet has been around for decades. Why am I hearing about digital credentials for the first time? When you first hear about digital credentials, these are certainly some of the questions that come to mind. While the internet and smartphones have come a long way in the previous two decades, blockchain technology, which enables verifiable digital credentials, has only recently grown to meet the essential criteria for widespread application and adoption.
With blockchain, you can turn your digital identity into a trusted identity.
Utilizing blockchain technology, digital credentials get permission, immutability, and verifiability. QR codes or private and public keys can be used to exchange digital credentials or even just aspects of a credential. In most credentialing use cases, there will be three players: the issuer, the holder, and the verifier. The credential will be added to the blockchain by the issuer, verifying the qualification or validity of an assertion. That credential can then be saved in the holder’s digital wallet.
When necessary, the holder can physically or digitally provide credentialed information to a verifier who must verify the validity of the holder’s credential. Digital credentials alleviate the bother of storing several physical papers, reduce fraud risk, and allow holders to give only the information they need to the verifier who requests it. A secure and trusted issuer-holder-verifier transaction pattern has limitless applications and will positively impact every industry.
Future use cases and the first wave
The adoption of digital credentials will happen in waves, with more obvious use cases being implemented first. We anticipate that when the benefits of digital credentials become clearer to those participating in the early waves of adoption, organizations, and governments with niche use cases will take a chance on them. Occupational and professional licensure, recreational permits, learning credentials, and immunization verifications are among the most common use cases we’ve seen. We expect credentials for verifying the authenticity of physical objects to be a following phase of adoption once these initial use cases gain traction. Individuals and institutions would be able to check the authenticity of parts, apparel, sports equipment, and other products. Medical credentials, driver’s licenses, and health data are some of the most common use cases.
Medical qualifications are an excellent candidate for digitization because they are unchangeable and verified. Verifying records for new physicians in the medical business is time-consuming and inefficient. Verifying a new hospital member can take anywhere from 12 to 25 independent organizations. As a result, the new hire onboarding process takes 4-6 months. Hospitals lose between USD 7,500 and 9,000 per day as a result of this timely process. The recruiting hospital would be able to check a new hire’s certifications in minutes rather than months if medical credentials were maintained on the blockchain.
We expect health records and driver’s licenses to be credentialed in the first wave of adoption, similar to medical qualifications. Allowing people to store their health information or driver’s licenses online would improve identity safety and security. We frequently provide more information to a third party than is necessary. If a verifying party wants to validate your age, there should be no reason to provide further information such as your address or complete name. You would be able to authenticate your age using digital credentials held on the blockchain without having to visually show any information, including your date of birth!