Fighting fraud and hiring right with the blockchain

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Digital Reporter

UK-based professional services network PwC and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) are conducting trials on a new platform called Smart Credentials. It utilizes blockchain technology to lessen instances of resumé fraud.

In the pilot, a recently qualified chartered accountant is made the owner of his credential through a digital certificate issued by ICAS. The owner then has full control of their data, with the option of updating it as their career advances and sharing it with others securely by request.

According to Steve Davies, global blockchain leader at PwC, the decentralized nature of blockchain shows promise in preventing resumé fraud for various industries aside from accounting.

“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. In this first project with ICAS, the data is a Chartered Accountant certificate, but you can also see the potential in any case where credentials are earned and continually updated, such as medical professionals, pilots or safety engineers.”

With Smart Credentials, the two firms are looking to tackle rampant resumé fraud, a regular phenomenon hiring teams face every day. A 2017 survey by employment website CareerBuilder revealed that 75 percent of HR managers have caught falsifications in application submissions. Unfortunately for other companies, lies that do slip through have lead to some high-profile exits. Former CEO Scott Thompson famously left Yahoo in 2012 after reportedly adding a bachelor’s degree to his credentials. Last year, Ramesh Tainwala left his post as CEO of Samsonite when it was verified that he had never earned the doctorate degree found in his resumé.

Optimistically, platforms like Smart Credentials will prevent such incidents while building back trust between employers and applicants. “In a world where digital trust is becoming an increasingly complex issue, in this context, blockchain has the potential to both build trust by establishing a single source of truth and allow users to take back control of their digital identity,” said Jon Andrews, head of technology and investments at PwC.