In an age where everything from grocery shopping to global conferences has moved online, the ways we verify customers’ identities and achievements are still stuck caught between the old and the new. The days of sifting through stacks of physical papers, making endless phone calls, or waiting on slow, traditional digital platforms not only seem outdated but come with challenges including being expensive and prone to human errors. Fortunately, digital Verifiable Credentials can solve all of these problems that enable quick and foolproof verification without compromising on privacy.
Around the world, we're witnessing a monumental shift with both private entities and governments transitioning towards digital identity verification. This isn't merely a trend but a transformative move that addresses the very fabric of how we trust and validate information in the digital world.
Verify Credentials Meaning
To "verify credentials" is the process of confirming the authenticity of claims made on a document such as an identity credential or professional license by an individual or organization. Verification ensures that the provided credentials haven't been falsified or tampered with as a way to ensure trustworthiness.
The Challenges Organizations Face When They Verify Credentials Using Conventional Methods
In an increasingly digital and connected world, the verification of credentials is crucial for organizations. However, many still rely on traditional, manual credential verification. While these methods have been used for decades, there are many challenges that can compromise the integrity of the verification process and pose risks to organizations.
1. Time-Consuming, Expensive Manual Processes
One major challenge of verifying credentials with conventional methods is the amount of time as well as physical and human resources they consume. It can take days, weeks, and even months to check credentials.
Consider this scenario: An HR professional needs to verify the educational background of a potential hire. This manual approach involves a lot of time calling the right department or person at the issuing institution. This process can be even more lengthy if there are multiple credentials from different institutions or if the institutions are based internationally. Then once the right person is contacted, there could be a long waiting period while the information is confirmed. Even if the HR department hires a third party service to do the verification for them, it’s expensive.
In the US, more than a third of 226,000 nurses waited at least three months to get their licenses after completing their program and almost 10% waited six months or longer. Many nurses get stuck in “licensing limbo” as a result of nurse boards taking time to verify nurses' education or mistakes like misplaced files, ignored emails, and miscommunication between states.
2. The Vulnerability of Physical Documents
These are the limitations of verifying physical documents:
Easy to forge: With advances in technology, certificate fraud has become easier than ever. High-quality printers, graphic design software, and easily accessible templates can make fake certificates look remarkably genuine.
Physical wear and tear: Physical documents can degrade over time, fade, or get damaged, making them difficult to read or verify.
Lost or misplaced: Hard copies can easily be lost, misplaced, or even stolen, leading to challenges in verification or potential misuse.
3. Limited Security and Privacy
Manual methods often lack stringent security protocols. Physical files can be accessed by unauthorized individuals and phone calls don't guarantee confidentiality. This opens up chances for potential breaches of sensitive information.
4. Human Error
Any manual process is prone to human error. A person might misread, misinterpret, or overlook crucial details. In the context of verifying credentials, these mistakes can lead to incorrect verification outcomes, potentially causing significant issues for organizations.
How to Verify Credentials Instantly and Accurately
Verifiable Credentials can solve all of the above problems. A Verifiable Credential is a fraud-proof and instantly verifiable digital document produced by an issuer that provides a claim made about an individual or organization. It's like a digital version of physical credentials such as a driver's license, passport, training certificate, or university degree. Verifiable Credentials are stored in a digital wallet app on people’s phones like the Dock Wallet.
Older versions of a digital credential and a Verifiable Credential both serve as digital representations of claims or qualifications, but they differ substantially in terms of security and verification mechanisms. The older form of a digital credential is essentially a digital version of a traditional document. Its authenticity primarily relies on the reputation of the issuing party and verifying it often still requires contacting the issuer directly just like someone would do with a physical credential.
On the other hand, a Verifiable Credential uses cryptographic techniques, making its authenticity verifiable without needing to contact the issuer at all because the verifier trusts the cryptographic digital signatures of well-known issuers. "Cryptography" is like a secret code and is a way to protect information. In the case of Verifiable Credentials, this secret code is used to prove that a credential, like a diploma or driver's license, is real and hasn't been tampered with.
Verifiable Credentials also provide more privacy features where credential holders can just present the relevant information on a credential. For example, someone can just show his date of birth on a driver’s license to prove that he is over 18 to buy alcohol rather than showing all of the irrelevant information on his license. Other advanced privacy features enable users to prove claims without revealing the details at all such as proving that your income is over $60,000 to qualify for a bank loan without disclosing your salary.
Why It Matters More Than Ever to Verify Credentials Digitally
In our ever-evolving digital landscape, the shift from physical to digital credentials is accelerating. From professional certifications to passports, the way we showcase our qualifications and achievements is undergoing a massive transformation.
But as with any form of proof or documentation, the true power of a credential lies in its authenticity.
Let's dive into why verifying digital credentials is not just crucial but an absolute necessity in our modern era:
1. Enhanced Security and Privacy Helps Organizations Stay Compliant With Data Regulations
Privacy-preserving technology helps organizations stay compliant with the growing number of data regulations on how user data is protected and handled properly. Key regulations around the world include the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in the US, and Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in Singapore.
2. Faster Customer Onboarding
In an increasingly fast-paced and competitive digital space, the customer experience during the onboarding process is crucial. Verifying digital credentials significantly speeds up this process by eliminating the tiresome steps involved with checking physical documents. Digital verification enables faster or instant access to services and platforms.
3. Reducing Operational Costs Boosts Efficiency and Profitability
Transitioning from verifying credentials physically to digitally can dramatically reduce expenses for organizations and identity verification companies. By automating the bulk of the verification process, companies can reallocate their human and financial resources to other areas of the organization. Credential storage by holders and processing eliminate the need for physical filing systems and reduce the costs associated with document retrieval and management.
4. Safeguarding Professional and Academic Integrity
Imagine thousands of unqualified trade workers being hired whose lack of safety training puts other workers and the public at risk or a medical doctor who gets a job with a fake license treating thousands of patients. These are all cases that have unfortunately happened around the world across diverse industries.
Having unqualified professionals, particularly for high stakes jobs like medical staff or construction workers, not only puts other people at risk but organizations can face huge financial penalties. Verification protects the integrity of professional and academic credentials ensuring that individuals earn their places based on genuine qualifications.
5. Empowering Seamless Global Mobility and Collaboration
Verifiable digital credentials enable smoother international mobility as professionals, students, and tourists often move to different countries. Whether it's a foreign university instantly checking the authenticity of an applicant's undergraduate degree or a healthcare provider overseas confirming a patient's medical history, verified credentials can create efficient global interactions.
The Global Shift to Verify Credentials Digitally
Private organizations and governments around the world are leading digital identity initiatives. As a result, there is an increasing demand for solutions to verify these credentials.
These are just a few of many examples around the world of digital identity initiatives:
- Digital driver's license projects are being implemented in several countries including Korea, UK, USA, Australia, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
- The European Digital Identity initiative was launched by the European Commission to provide a digital identity to EU citizens, residents, and businesses that can be used to identify themselves or provide confirmation of certain personal information. The project aims to enable access to digital services across the EU for public and private services while giving users control over which information is shared with third parties.
- Estonia is the world's first country to completely digitize public services with the government initiative called e-Estonia. The country is often praised for being a leader in digital governance and successful e-residency programs.
- SingPass in Singapore is the country’s national digital identity system that enables users to only give businesses the necessary information for minimal data exposure. It uses advanced encryption and security technology to ensure the data is protected and only shared with user consent.
This global shift to digital ID verification will incentivize identity verification companies and their customers to adapt.
Verify Credentials Instantly With Dock’s Technology
Here's the overall process to verify credentials efficiently:
- Issuance: Initially, a trusted organization (the issuer), like a university or government agency, issues a Verifiable Credential to an individual. This credential contains information like a degree, driver's license, or age.
- Digital Signature: The issuer signs the credential with their cryptographic private key, essentially putting a unique digital stamp on it. This signature verifies that the credential is legitimate and hasn't been tampered with.
- Storage: The individual stores this credential securely in their digital wallet, which is a digital storage system. Think of it as a virtual safe for your credentials in your phone.
- Verification Request: When the individual needs to prove something, say, their age to access a restricted website, they present the credential from their wallet.
- Verification Process: The website, or any verifier, can instantly verify the credential's authenticity and the information it contains by checking the digital signature. They don't need to contact the issuer at all.
Use Case Examples
The ability to instantly verify credentials without contacting the issuer streamlines processes across various sectors.
Verify Credentials in Education
Digital Diplomas and Transcripts
Universities and schools can issue digital diplomas and transcripts as Verifiable Credentials. When students apply for jobs or further studies, potential employers or institutions can instantly verify the authenticity of these documents using digital verification platforms like Dock Certs, eliminating the need to contact the educational institution directly.
Online Course Certifications
Educational platforms could issue verifiable digital certificates upon course completion. Employers can instantly validate the accomplishment without reaching out to the course provider.
Verify Credentials in Finance
Digitally Verified Bank ID
Banks can provide customers with digitally signed verified IDs. When a customer applies for another service within the company, the financial institution can instantly verify the authenticity using the embedded cryptographic proof.
Instant Income and Employment Verification
Financial institutions can verify digital credentials that prove a customer’s income or employment status during the loan approval process. Instead of manually verifying an applicant's employment status and income with employers or waiting for paper documentation, banks can use digital proofs provided directly from the employer's payroll system. This speeds up the loan application process and ensures data accuracy and privacy compliance.
Verify Credentials in Health and Safety
Workers in various industries such as construction and manufacturing often need safety training. Upon completion, they receive digital certifications which potential employers or site managers can immediately authenticate before allowing them on-site.
Compliance With Health and Safety Regulations in Food Industry
In the food service and production industries, employees must often complete training in food safety. Restaurants, food manufacturers, and regulators can verify digital credentials of these workers to confirm they've completed the necessary training, ensuring compliance with health and safety standards and reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Verify Credentials in Healthcare
Fraud-Proof, Privacy-Preserving Digital Immunization Records
By having immunization records issued as Verifiable Credentials, people have more control over their data and can share their immunization statuses securely. Also, these credentials are fraud-proof so people can’t fake making a record. When people are traveling or attending events, authorities can swiftly verify their immunization status while being assured that the credential is authentic, which enhances public safety.
Healthcare professionals, like doctors or nurses, can have digital versions of their licenses. Hospitals or clinics, when hiring or partnering, can quickly verify the validity of the professional's license without having to contact the issuing board.
We're no longer in an era where manual, time-consuming processes can be the norm. Instead, we're shifting towards a future where efficiency, accuracy, and user privacy come together to create a seamless experience for individuals and organizations. As a result, we see a growing number of organizations and governments around the world trying to catch up with new ways to issue and verify credentials online.
Verifiable Credentials solve the common problems that come with verifying physical and older versions of digital documents. They enable instant, precise, and privacy-preserving verification that can be applied to use cases in diverse sectors including education, finance, and healthcare. The privacy-preserving features of Verifiable Credentials can help organizations stay compliant with data regulations.
Dock’s Verifiable Credential platform makes any data fraud-proof and instantly verifiable. It comprises the Certs API, the Certs no-code web app, an ID wallet and a dedicated blockchain. Using Dock, organizations reduce data verification costs while increasing the operational efficiency of verifying and issuing digital credentials. Individuals can fully control their data to access products and services more conveniently in a privacy-preserving way. Dock has been a leader in decentralized digital identity technology since 2017 and trusted by organizations in diverse sectors, including healthcare, finance, and education.
Partner Use Cases
- SEVENmile issues fraud-proof verifiable certificates using Dock
- BurstIQ Makes Health Data Verifiable, Secure, and Portable With Dock
- Gravity eliminates Health & Safety certificate fraud with Dock
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- BurstIQ Use Cases That Leverage Verifiable Credentials
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- Decentralized Identity
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- Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs)
- Web3 Identity
- Blockchain Identity Management
- Selective Disclosure