Schools and Companies Perish. Can Credentials Remain?

Skilled refugees arriving in foreign lands find it hard to prove their qualifications to potential employers. Students from Kenya’s Maseno University are uncertain about graduation, as their campus shut down since December amid riots. Startups with best ideas dissolved overnight and employees laid off.

The above examples explains the importance of self-sovereign identity (SSI), that you can manage and control your credentials without the intervening administrative authorities. With records stored separately from those authorities, it is far less detrimental for a university withholding certificate because of fee non-payment, or an employer refusing to give reference as the employee left the job on bad terms.

In November alone, we noted two initiatives to implement SSI systems which allows schools and employers to step out of their roles as the sole holders of credential information. The first one leverages the blockchain technology, while the second one considers the commonly-used email a solution.

Blockchain is a decentralized way to record transactions (i.e. credentials) that can’t be changed, and therefore it is an ideal weapon in combating resume fraud. According to an IBM blog post, the company is working with Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), National Student Clearinghouse and VetBloom by Ethos Veterinary Health to run a blockchain-based learning credential project.

“Still in early development, the platform uses blockchain technology to produce a permanent, verifiable record of learning and skills certifications and qualifications. Job applicants will own their data and choose how, and with whom it is shared.” explains Alex Kaplan, global leader of AI and blockchain for learning credentials at IBM.

The second initiative comes from, which advocates the use of work email as an evidence of professional credentials, storing independently of the HR system. In the open registry, verified employees (those having active email account) can create a timestamp, and potential employers can check the timestamp by inputting the same email address.

"Global brands are struggling to attract experienced talent, but the slow background check process is a real pain," said Ken Chan, Project Director at "In addition to employers, employees themselves are also the holder of credential information. Timestamped email address can tell the potential employer immediately whether the candidate has worked there or not."

As illustrated in the above examples, it is still earlier to say that self-sovereign identity has became a reality. There is less reliance on schools and employers to store and validate the credentials, but other authorities or agencies are still required in the process. But thanks to the new technologies, such process is improved in a more simple and secure way.

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  1. Looking forward to another great blockchain application!