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South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology Issues Diplomas on Blockchain

Saad Ullah

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Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), has recently issued diplomas to more than 800 students, but in a virtual sense, with the documents recorded on blockchain.

Virtual Diplomas in a Virtual Convocation

POSTECH decided to issue the diplomas virtually, rather than have a conventional graduation ceremony due to the current outbreak of corona virus. The spokesperson for the university said,

“In the aftermath of the new corona, it is impossible to hold a graduation ceremony on time,” and “Now, even if a student does not visit the school to receive the diploma, they can get an online digital degree secured by blockchain technology.”

To ensure that there is no chance of error, the University decided to employ blockchain technology. The immutability of the decentralized ledger means that the diplomas issued are locked and no one can alter the results. Graduating students were sent Quick Response (QR) codes, which they or anyone else can scan to view the diploma images. The blockchain system POSTECH is relying on is BROOF, a certificate issuance service by ICONLOOP, a firm that provides blockchain solutions for day to day activities.

POSTECH is not the first university to use blockchain for securing their students’ degrees and diplomas. MIT had started the use of blockchain back in 2015, initially only entering the information but issued their first blockchain based certificate in 2017.

How Diplomas Are Secured

BROOF, the certification solution by ICONLOOP, works by allowing institutions to set up smart contracts in which they can upload the names and certificates of graduating students. The smart contract allows educational institutes to upload either scanned images or PDF versions of the diplomas.

Once the diplomas are uploaded through the admin interface available to universities, the hash for the documents is calculated by the system and is added to the smart contract.

The ability to add new data is available during a certain time only, ensuring that when the complete documents are sent, no new one can be. This acts as a safety net since malicious entities cannot add forged data. Data that is already entered is secure too since it cannot be altered or deleted, further bolstering the ability to resist forgery.

The corona virus has infected thousands across the globe and has claimed more than 700 lives so far, including nearly 2 dozen in South Korea. Although the answer is a medical one, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have seen a surge of use during this testing time. The issuance of diplomas on blockchain by MIT and POSTECH shows that not only the immutable technology is the right tool to combat forgery, but perhaps also can help in distribution of data and other documents in which it would be extremely difficult considering the virulent nature of an epidemic.

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