PwC and ICAS test blockchain for qualification verification

PwC is testing the use of blockchain technology to issue staff with digital versions of their certifications, kept in virtual wallets, as part of an initiative looking at ways to reduce the amount of time and cost organisations spend checking an individual’s identify and qualifications

The firm’s smart credentials platform gives the data’s owners complete control over sharing their credentials digitally, with reduced exposure to fraud. It is being trialled by PwC staff who have qualified with ICAS in the last two years.

Steve Davies, global blockchain leader at PwC, said: ‘We’re seeing high demand for verified, trusted and irrefutable identities from many different types of organisations, but a common challenge for employers is ensuring that an applicant holds the credentials listed on their CV.

‘Blockchain is traditionally associated with financial uses given its link to cryptocurrencies, but there are a wealth of potential use cases for this emerging technology and one of them is in overcoming the challenges of digital identity.’

PwC said the first project with ICAS is focused on a chartered accountant certificate, but there is the potential to use the same technology in any case where credentials are earned and continually updated - such as medical professionals, pilots or safety engineers.

Smart Credentials is a platform, underpinned by blockchain, that gives the owner of a credential control of their data, while also simplifying the process for regulators or institutions who issue credentials, as well as the reviewers who need to check them.

In this pilot, the owner is the recently qualified chartered accountant at PwC; ICAS issues the digital certificate to that person and it will then be part of their digital wallet and can be updated with ongoing personal development and be shared with others on request in a safe and secure way.

Bruce Cartwright, chief executive of ICAS, said: ‘Data protection is arguably one of the most enduring challenges of our time. Our newly-qualified chartered accountant members involved in this trial can now take control of their personal data by replacing the paper-based certificate with a secure digital version.

‘Not only this, but the technology allows instant verification of their credentials, putting an end to the back-and-forth involved in establishing good standing and ensuring our members can get on with their jobs.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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