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Verifiable Credentials on the Blockchain: A Trustworthy Solution

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In the age of digital identities, the importance of digitizing and validating official documents cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, the verification process for such documents is often neglected. To combat fraud and ensure the authenticity of digital credentials, an international standard called “verifiable credentials” has emerged. This system guarantees the reliability and security of information, enabling secure sharing. Today, we will delve into the intricacies of verifiable credentials and how they work.

Verifiable Credentials: An Introduction

Verifiable credentials as a digital alternative to physical documents

The digitization of administrative and professional procedures has created the need for a reliable way to verify the authenticity of transmitted information and supporting documents. “Verifiable credentials” (VCs) serve as a digital counterpart to physical documents. These standardized certificates are issued by trusted entities that certify the accuracy of an individual’s data. By leveraging blockchain technology, these certificates can be securely shared online. The information contained within the VCs is fully verifiable and secure, making them even more reliable than their paper counterparts.

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The European Commission is actively collaborating with European public administrations to develop the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI). This infrastructure aims to establish trust, security, privacy, and interoperability across digital public and administrative services. By adhering to EBSI standards, individuals and public institutions will experience a streamlined verification process when it comes to official documents. This means that qualifications obtained from one country can be easily verified by potential employers in another. Furthermore, individuals can effortlessly access public health and education services in their new country of residence by presenting their identity signature or cryptographic key.

Composition of Verifiable Credentials

Verifiable credentials are composed of three elements encoded in a simple JSON file:

  • Metadata: This encrypted information, accompanied by cryptographic signatures, provides details about the credential’s issuer, holder, creation and expiry dates, and other relevant information. The validity of the signature can be cryptographically verified.
  • Declaration: The declaration includes the data that the holder wishes to share, such as their identity, education diploma, or other formal documents.
  • Proof: This data establishes the authenticity of the shared information by verifying the identifier or identity of the credential holder.

For a certificate to be recognized as a verifiable credential, it must conform to the specific standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in its W3C Verifiable Credentials Data Model specification.

How Verifiable Credentials Work

The Key Actors

Verifiable credentials operate in a decentralized manner, involving three key parties:

The Issuer

The issuer is the entity that provides verifiable data about an individual. This entity can be a government agency, a school or university, a medical center, a banking institution, or any authorized entity.

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The Holder

The holder of the verifiable credential is typically an individual, but it can also be an organization. The holder has complete control over the issued credential and can determine its handling, use, and verification. It’s important to note that the subject of the credential may not be the individual who possesses it. For example, parents can hold verifiable credentials for their child’s birth certificate until the child reaches legal age.

The Verifier

Any entity that requests a digital certificate from the holder is referred to as a verifier. Through automated means, such as an online verification service, the verifier obtains proof that the verifiable credential has been issued by an authorized institution and has not been tampered with or expired.

The Role of Blockchain in Verifiable Credentials

Blockchain technology plays a crucial role in securely storing authenticity proofs, identifiers, and signatures related to verifiable credentials. This decentralized database ensures the permanent and tamper-proof nature of the stored information. By leveraging blockchain, trust-based relationships are established between issuers, holders, and verifiers of digital certificates. Blockchain technology finds applications across various fields, including finance, supply chain logistics, and notarization. Within the academic sector, blockchain facilitates the implementation of verifiable credentials for digital diplomas.

With the aid of blockchain technology, users can hold digital certificates that are always accessible to them. Supporting documents, proofs, and diplomas can be easily shared through the web or via a decentralized application like a “virtual student wallet.” This technology empowers users by granting them full control over their credentials.

The Role of DIDs in Verifiable Credentials

In the verifiable credentials system standardized by W3C, the issuer, holder, and verifier are required to use Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs). DIDs provide users with secure identifiers that guarantee their identity when requesting or sharing a verifiable credential. Leveraging advanced cryptography, DIDs are often registered in trusted registries to enhance user convenience and security. When sharing a verifiable credential with a verifier, users utilize their DID and cryptographic key to sign the presentation of their credential, known as a verifiable presentation.

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Selective Disclosure: Full Control Over Shared Information

Verifiable credential technology allows users to exercise full control over the information they share. With selective disclosure, users can decide whom to share their information with, for how long, and to what extent. By utilizing the “zero knowledge proof” method, users can carefully choose which data to disclose. For instance, during identity verification, users can prove their identification without revealing their date or place of birth.

If you want to learn more about digital certificates and verifiable credentials on the blockchain, check out our use case with the University of Lilles.

BCdiploma: Revolutionizing Digital Diplomas

One of the innovative applications of blockchain technology is the creation of digital degrees. BCdiploma is at the forefront of providing universities and education institutions with a new method for issuing tamper-proof and easily accessible diplomas. This novel approach saves significant time by eliminating the need for processing and mailing duplicates and formal certificates.

By adopting this system that aligns with the verifiable credentials specification, universities and establishments can expect the following benefits:

  • Creation of a digital diploma that enjoys trust from all parties involved – the issuer, holder, and verifier.
  • Streamlined web-based certificate applications.
  • Secure storage of various data in a protected digital space.
  • Quick provision of requested proofs to other institutions.
  • Protection against document loss or theft.

Embrace this innovative, efficient, and reliable system to bring your institution up to date!

Ratingperson is a leading provider of verifiable credentials solutions.

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