Creating trust in digital official attestations with EBSILUX

The Ministry for Digitalization is partially funding the EBSILUX project and acts as project manager. In the last part of our interview series with the EBSILUX consortium members, we talked to Gaston Schmit, First Government Adviser at the ministry. As the project will soon draw to a close, Gaston Schmit shares some thoughts about the ministry’s role in digitalisation and how EBSILUX contributes to reaching these goals.

Can you present the Ministry for Digitalisation?

“The Ministry for Digitalisation was created following the 2018 legislative elections. The objectives were manifold: it was meant to promote general technological development in areas that are crucial for the economy and to develop new strategies to help the country move forward, but above all, it’s all about improving citizen’s daily lives and the various administrative processes. A significant part of the activities of the Ministry for Digitalisation are therefore aimed at making people’s lives easier.

Moreover, the Ministry acts as a facilitator and a coordinator for ministries and other state entities wishing to develop their digital activities. In order to achieve its goals, the Ministry has set out 4 high-priority strategic axes: developing eGovernment, advancing administrative reform, promoting digital inclusion and integrating new technologies.”

Why did the Ministry for Digitalisation launch the EBSILUX project?

“The Ministry has launched a number of projects and initiatives that promote the integration and use of new technologies to accelerate digitalisation. With the EBSILUX project, the Ministry and its partners are developing a solution to provide digital higher education diplomas whose authenticity can be verified automatically. The objective is to showcase the issuing of digital diplomas that can be used across borders and stored in a digital wallet by the student.

The diplomas use case is a first step towards giving every citizen control over their data and giving them a place to receive, manage and share all types of digital certificates that will constitute their digital identity. The standardised exchange of structured data will increase the quality of the data and save a lot of time in administrative procedures. Finally, the diplomas use case will contribute to student mobility and international cooperation in Luxembourg.

Actually, issuing digital and verifiable certificates and attestations is a major challenge for the public sector. The State must ensure that this digitalisation is done in a secure way so that the public develops the same trust in digital official attestations as it has today in paper documents.”

How is the Ministry for Digitalisation involved in the project?

“Together with the European Commission, Luxembourg’s Ministry for Digitalisation is funding the EBSILUX project. Furthermore, the Ministry for Digitalisation acts as a project manager of EBSILUX. This does not only include managing EBSILUX internally but also maintaining a strong link with EBSI and the European Commission. This link is particularly maintained through Patrick Weber, a member of the Ministry for Digitalisation who acts as a national representative for the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) and takes part in various strategic meetings of the EBP. Likewise, the Ministry for Digitalisation tries to navigate the EBSILUX project in alignment with national strategies on related topics. Moreover, the Ministry for Digitalisation, supports the operation of EBSI by hosting an EBSI node.”

“What project phase are you currently in, and what does it involve?”

“We are now in the final phase of the project. We could successfully showcase a minimum-viable product (MVP) that allows us to issue and verify digital diplomas using EBSI. We now focus on improving the usability of our MVP.

As we are reaching the end of the EBSILUX project, we are currently also wrapping up our learnings. We recently published a whitepaper that describes our EBSILUX project, gives best practices, and outlines challenges that EBSI will need to address in the future. We also held some courses for civil servants to share our insights from the EBSILUX project.”

What’s next for EBSILUX?

“Although the EBSILUX project will end soon, there will be exciting things to come for EBSILUX. The EU will launch a digital identity wallet which will be piloted in 2023/24 for different use cases. One of these use cases will be digital diplomas. We will actively follow these developments to see how the upcoming European digital identity wallet can help us bring our EBSILUX project into production, so that future students in Luxembourg can receive and manage their diplomas with their mobile phones. “