Taking EBSILUX to the Next Level with SnT

In October 2021, we discussed with Thierry Grandjean, Blockchain Research Engineer at the Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology (LIST) who talked about the first phase of the project.

For the second phase, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT)’s FINATRAX Research Group reveals what this phase they are working on consists of and how this step will impact the continuity of EBSILUX.

Can you present SnT and the FINATRAX Research Group?

“The Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) is a leading international research and innovation center in secure, reliable, and trustworthy ICT systems and services at the University of Luxembourg. We play an instrumental role in Luxembourg by fueling innovation through research partnerships with industry, boosting R&D investments leading to economic growth, and attracting highly qualified talent from various fields, including mathematics, computer science, arts, and others. SnT takes on a wide range of projects, including autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, FinTech, IoT, Space Systems, and more.”

“SnT’s FINATRAX Research Group, headed by Prof. Gilbert Fridgen, investigates the application and impact of Blockchain/DLT, Digital Identities, Artificial Intelligence, and 5G on organisations in the private or public sector. By doing so, it builds bridges between business research and information systems engineering. Our interdisciplinary team and collaborations with public authorities, such as Luxembourg’s Ministry for Digitalisation or the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, as well as partners in industry allow us to conduct timely and innovative research and transfer this research into practice.”

Why did the FINATRAX Research Group join the EBSILUX project?

“FINATRAX joined the EBSILUX project to support Luxembourg’s adoption of the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure (EBSI) in general and its Diploma Use Case in particular.

“In a world where anything can be forged, fake university diplomas have become a sizeable market, with hundreds of fake online universities selling education by the pound – quite literally. In fact, “diploma mills” are a billion-dollar business worldwide, and the use of fake degrees constitutes a veritable problem. The extent of the problem is thought to be substantial – as early as 2006, it was reported that employers estimate up to 30% of all resumes contain false qualifications. The question is, why can’t these fake diplomas be spotted? The problem lies in the difficulty to carry out a quick and simple background check on university diplomas. In fact, these can take a long processing time, often longer than businesses are willing to wait. But what if these checks could be done in a fraction of the time?”

“We joined the EBSILUX project to help bring about these fast checks in Luxembourg and Europe. EBSILUX will support transparency and trust between universities, students and employers. Being issued as a verifiable credential allows the diplomas to be verified at any time and from anywhere, so that employers can quickly check the validity of their candidates’ documentation – which will in turn lead to a faster recruitment process. The future of this programme is bright – with the potential for expanding the system into driving licences, residence and social security documents.”

How is the FINATRAX Research Group involved in the project?

“FINATRAX is responsible for defining the functional and technical requirements and providing technical advice to LIST and EBSILUX’s technology partner walt.id. Moreover, we are developing the high-level architecture of EBSILUX’s diploma application. After the implementation phase, we will work on a white paper to consolidate and disseminate insights and best practices from the project.”

“Moreover, we leverage our position as a leading research group in the areas of blockchain and digital identities to transfer knowledge and best practices to Luxembourg and the EBSILUX project. For instance, our team members are active participants of various international working groups, such as EBSI’s technical working group or the academic advisory board of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications.”

What phase of the project are you currently in and what does it involve?

“Right now, we are in a very exciting phase as we have moved past purely conceptional work. We are now in the development and implementation phase, where we assist LIST and walt.id to build a prototypical EBSILUX diploma application. This application will take real student data provided by the University of Luxembourg and generate verifiable diploma credentials. Students can then manage these credentials in a web-based wallet.”