Malta Pilots Blockchain-Based Credentials Program
Malta, an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, is completing the first ever attempt by a nation state to tie citizen records to the blockchain. If successful, a scaled-up version of the pilot program will give Malta’s 400,000 residents the ability to retrieve and share educational records and transcripts for free. What’s more, it wouldprovide a proof-of-concept that could inspire other countries to adopt similar programs.
Since September 2017, the Maltese government has been working with Learning Machine Technologies, a New York-based company, on a pilot program that issues certificates anchored to a blockchain to people enrolled in higher education, civil servant job training, and vocational programs. Learning Machine’s Malta pilot works like this: A Maltese institution decides to issue a blockchain-based identity record to a recipient. That recipient can downloada free app that uses Blockcerts, an open standard for blockchain-based certificates developed by Learning Machinethat manages public and private cryptographic keys.
Users own the private key forever, even if that institution shuts down. By sharing the public key with other parties that wish to verify the user’s documents, the user grants those parties access to his or her blockchain-based certificate. The results of the pilot, now eight months in operation, are still awaiting official release.
But Alex Grech, a lecturer at the University of Malta who’s working as a special advisor to Malta’s minister for education and employment, is confident that Learning Machine’s contracts will be renewed in when the current pilot ends in August. A successor program, says Grech, will expand to more areas of the education sector.