The Malta Independent 22 March 2019, Friday

Pilot project extended: All educational certificates to be issued through blockchain

Albert Galea Thursday, 21 February 2019, 12:26 Last update: about 27 days ago

The Blockcerts pilot project has been extended to a nation-wide project which will see all educational institutions – state and private – issue certificates through blockchain.

A memorandum of understanding signed on Wednesday between the company Learning Machine and the government formalised this extension, which follows the project’s initial implementation at the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) and MCAST in 2017.

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The innovative digital technology supports the creation, issuing, viewing and verification of blockchain certificates that are registered in a public blockchain and cryptographically signed.

Speaking at a press conference at Castille, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that this initiative was the first of its kind not only in Europe, but in the world, and noted that Malta had indeed become the blockchain island.

Muscat said that through Learning Machine and Blockcerts, people can feel the impact of technology and feel how much it can make life easier.  Having credentials stored on blockchain guarantees having them not only under lock and key, but also accessible at any time whilst reducing bureaucracy.  He said that this is a huge step forward for the whole country, and added that it would most certainly not be the last.

Education and Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo said that the wide-scale introduction of this technology was another step to fulfilling the challenge set by the Prime Minister to make Malta the best not just in Europe but in the world.  He said that Malta had moved forward only because the country had big dreams, and noted that the introduction of this technology was only possible to due to the strong economic growth and wealth creation measures that the country has seen in the past years.

Bartolo said that Malta cannot simply be consumers of technological products and initiatives such as this, but the country had to let this technology become part of its culture, knowledge and competence.

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri expressed his satisfaction and the reaffirmed commitment that was being shown by adopting Blockcerts.  He said that the technology had already empowered 2,000 students and given them instant access to their credentials.

Schembri also announced that a second call for applications for a €300,000 fund which the government had made available for students wanting to specialise in blockchain and digital ledger technologies at Masters and PhD levels will be opening this coming Monday.  He also said that there will be new Masters courses at the University of Malta which will specialise in blockchain, digital ledger technology and ICT, and that the government is looking to adopt blockchain technology into other fields such as health and company registration in the future.

Learning Machine’s Vice President for Business Development Nathalie Smolenski was meanwhile full of praise for Malta’s approach to the blockchain sector, saying that Malta has a “winning combination” in this regard and noting that as soon as she arrived in Malta in 2016 she had a feeling that something “special” was being born on the island in terms of its growth, economy and technological leaps forward.

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