Big Four Auditor PwC Trials Blockchain System for Verifying Employee Credentials
Big Four audit and consultancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
is conducting a trial of its new blockchain-powered platform for ensuring the integrity of employee credentials. The trial, launched in partnership with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), was announced in a PwC press release published on Feb. 28. PwC’s “Smart Credentials” platform, earlier unveiled on Feb. 13, implements blockchain to issue, store and securely share digital certificates for employees’ professional qualifications. For the trial with ICAS, PwC employees, who have qualified as chartered accountants at the Institute within the past two years, are being issued with a blockchain-based certificate from ICAS that becomes part of their unique digital wallet.
PwC contends that blockchain’s decentralized and tamper-proof architecture can significantly mitigate exposure to fraud. The firm argues that this reduces the risks and costs of screening qualifications when on-boarding employees, as well as simplifies the process of certificate issuance for regulators and institutions. It also provides a secure alternative to paper credentials, which are susceptible to loss and can be costly to replace.
For certificate issuers, using the blockchain platform places no requirements on them to store credentials on their in-house systems, lessening the burden on their infrastructure. With certificates stored on owners’ digital wallets, professionals can update them in accordance with personal development and may provide or revoke their visibility to reviewers. For employers, PwC proposes, the system bolsters confidence in the authenticity of employee documents. Smart Credentials is being pitched as a blockchain solution that can provide “verified, trusted and irrefutable [digital] identities” across multiple fields; Steve Davies, global blockchain leader at PwC, has
“Blockchain was designed to allow participants to share data without needing intermediaries. No one party has central ownership, so individuals get more control over their personal data. […] You can also see the potential in any case where credentials are earned and continually updated – such as medical professionals, pilots or safety engineers.”
As reported this week, Japanese multinational conglomerate Sony and IT equipment services firm Fujitsu are to trial blockchain for enhancing the integrity of educational course records and students’ grade data. PwC continues to make multiple inroads into the blockchain and crypto sector worldwide, with investments — notably in China-based Internet-of-Things blockchain network VeChain — and an in-house blockchain and crypto accelerator program for over 1,000 PwC employees.