The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has started a pilot program enabling the issuance of diplomas using the bitcoin blockchain.
The pilot program that began this summer gave 111 MIT graduates the option to receive their diplomas on their smartphones through Blockcerts Wallet, an application reliant on blockchain, in additional to the hard copy format.
This application, developed by the MIT Media Lab and the Cambridge software company Learning Machine, quickly and easily provides the students with a verifiable and immutable version of their diploma that they can share with employers, family and friend, in addition to the traditional format.
Blockcerts generates a public-private key pair after a student downloads it and registers for the program, and then sends the public key to MIT, who writes it into the digital record and adds a one-way hash to the bitcoin blockchain. Afterwards, the application saves the private key of the user proving his/her ownership of the diploma. In this way, the MIT pilot provides the students with autonomy over their own records
Chris Jagers, Co-founder and CEO of Learning Machine, stated that “MIT has issued official records in a format that can exist even if the institution goes away, even if we go away as a vendor. People can own and use their official records, which is a fundamental shift.”
Jagers also commented on blockchain-based applications when he said “It really is transformative. And it could be as big as the web, because it affects every sector. It’s not just academic records. It’s being able to passively know that digital things are true. That creates a whole new reality across every sector.”