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Pilot Project Verifies Academic Credentials on the Bitcoin Blockchain

The UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies at University College London (UCL CBT) is launching a new pilot project for blockchain-based verification of academic credentials. MSc Financial Risk Management graduates are now able to display a verified qualification on their CV through a QR code based on the Bitcoin blockchain, which instantly provides tamper-proof, verifiable information.

“The pilot will show that blockchain technology can be used outside of the financial sector,” said Professor Tomaso Aste, Scientific Director of the UCL CBT. “It will boost the CVs of students, providing proof of concept for the future potential to reduce universities’ burden processing verification requests and cut down the cost and time to verify qualifications for employers.”

UCL’s pilot project has been developed in partnership with Gradbase, a London-based developer whose technology leverages the Bitcoin blockchain to reduce fraud and administrative costs for both prospective employers and academic institutions.

Gradbase, founded in 2016 in London by two Imperial College London alumni, is funded by Global Advisors, a cryptocurrencies investment fund co-founded by Daniel Masters. “We are delighted that a top-tier academic institution such as UCL has recognized the potential for blockchain technology to change the world,” said Masters. “We look forward to receiving valuable feedback from this pilot.”

“We are very excited to have collaborated with Gradbase on a pilot which is a U.K. first,” added Dr. Paolo Tasca, the Executive Director of the UCL CBT. “The UCL CBT is playing a leading role in enabling the use of blockchain technology in the education sector, and we believe that, in the future, such technology will become mainstream.”

Gradbase is inspired by the "U.K. Digital Strategy for 2017,” which promotes new ways to work with personal data with more control and trust, and applications of blockchain and smart contracts. One of the main challenges for the UCL CBT pilot project was how to ensure compliance with the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be enforced as of May 25, 2018, and in particular the “right to be forgotten.”

“I am very excited that the pilot with UCL CBT was very successful,” Alberto De Capitani, co-founder of Gradbase, said in conversation with Bitcoin Magazine. “This pilot constitutes the first tangible proof that a frictionless, user-friendly and secure solution to the problem of CV fraud not only already exists but is also out there today. Now, every participating graduate of the MSc in Financial Risk Management can flaunt their QR code and with it be proud that they participated in the first pilot of its kind in the U.K.”

Gradbase Technical and Business Partner Maria Grazia Vigliotti, responsible for security and GDPR compliance, told Bitcoin Magazine that Gradbase is planning to work with many more academic and professional institutions in the U.K., Europe and Africa.

The UCL CBT is not the only educational institution to pilot blockchain-based verification of academic qualifications, nor is Bitcoin the only blockchain being used in this way. GRNET, the national research and education network of Greece, is working on a pilot project with blockchain research and development company IOHK to verify student diplomas on Enterprise Cardano, a private version of the Cardano blockchain which launched in September 2017.

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