What Are Digital Credentials – Do They Matter? | Certifier (2023)

Diplomas and certificates from educational institutions and professional associations, ID cards and driving licenses, security clearances, and passports are all examples of paper credentials.

The problem with these physical credentials is that they can be lost or stolen, causing a wide range of inconveniences.

In this article, we will explain the types of digital credentials and how organizations and professionals can benefit from comprehensive learner records and digital credentialing.

What are Digital Credentials?

Digital credentials are digital certificates issued by education institutions as proof of authenticity, achievements, and learning.

In function,these are no different from paper credentials. As you would present your passport or a driving license, you need to prove the necessary qualification when you apply for a new job.

In today's world dominated by online apps, web pages, and social media, you need to present proof instantly.

What Are Digital Credentials – Do They Matter? | Certifier (1)


Instead of asking your academic institution for paper copies of academic credentials that you need to pay for, or PDF copies that are easily forged by other candidates, you can resort to digital technologies.

The most common examples include:

  • College degree certificates issued by educational providers
  • Acknowledgments for understanding a complex topic
  • Academic credit for applicable work experience
  • Awards for mastering a personal or professional skill
  • Corporate education

However, online credentials are also used for:

  • Proof of membership
  • Awards for achievement, behavior, and effort.

While it may seem like creating a digital credential is a hassle, it can actually be pretty simple and straightforward with a tool like Certifier.

Still not sure? We'll explain it further in this article ➡️ What's the Difference Between a Certificate, Credential, and a Degree?

Types of Digital Credentials

There are three types of online credentials: digital badges, micro-credentials, and digital certificates. All three types revolve around the same concept that digital credentials provide a better link to opportunities than current paper transcripts.

Digital Badges

Digital badges were pioneered by the Mozilla and MacArthur foundations as a way of recognizing skills acquired outside the formal educational system.

They are usually awarded by academic institutions, like community colleges, online course providers, or by organizers of events and conferences.

Digital badges are digital verifiable credentials that contain:

  • The issuer identity
  • The name of the recipient
  • Award criteria
  • Issue Date
  • Evidence of learning

By accessing the information contained in the digital badge via a QR code or URL link, an interested party can verify and certify the acquired skills and identity of the holder.

Digital badges are typically used for credentials that take a short time to learn, such as qualification modules,

They can use shapes, colors, and symbols to identify levels of achievement.

These credentials are designed so they can be easily embedded across a variety of platforms. Learners can share their digital badges on social media, email signature, online portfolio, resume, etc.

Companies can choose to use only digital badges, digital certificates, or both.

A digital badge can be awarded for:

  • Participating in an event
  • Completing a project
  • Verifying specific commitments such as a blood drive badge
  • Valuing skills, such as mastery of the Javascript
  • Certifying the completion of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)


Micro-credentials are certifications that attest to the learning outcomes of a short course or module, which is assessed in a transparent matter.

These micro-certificates allow for flexible, modular learning and can be used throughout the learner's professional career. Sometimes they take the form of badges.

Training organizations can use digital micro-certificates to verify the mastery of different blocks of competence that make up a training course or a webinar.

Micro-credentials allow learners to claim their professional skills throughout their careers. They can present micro-certification during job interviews or use them for professional development within the company.

Micro-credentials are designed to promote mobility and flexibility in the authentication of learning.

Digital Certificates

Digital certificates are non-material, and unlike paper certificates, they are easy to share and hard to misplace.

What is more, digital certificates have many benefits for training organizations, as they allow them to:

  • Streamline administrative processes
  • Store documents and related data
  • Quickly access information at requests
  • Showcase an institution's innovative approach
  • Build stronger bonds between alumni and the university
  • Prevent diploma falsification and thus protect the organization's reputation

Let's take a look at one example:

Emlyon Business School, based in Lyon, France is the first business school that begins awarding digital certificates to its students and alumni.Since 2019, this school's diplomas and certifications have been automatically delivered and micro-certified on the blockchain framework.

To access their digital certificate, students use a unique URL link that contains all the necessary information that demonstrates their training credentials. This allows holders to share these academic credentials with recruiters, companies, and audiences on social media.

Basing digital credential services on blockchain technologies comes with unique advantages.Blockchain-certified academic credentials are 100% secure, tamper-proof, verifiable, and permanent.The public certificate blockchain is a decentralized database that is, by its nature, forgery-proof. Digital credentials and academic transcripts are stored securely because blockchain information is impossible to falsify.

Role of Anonymous Digital Credentials

The idea behind anonymous credential systems is that users receive cryptographic tokens that allow them to prove qualifications and relationships with organizations anonymously.This is a much more private alternative to maintaining lase centralized user records.

Paper world analogs of non-anonymous credentials like passports, driving licenses, and credit cards contain the name of the owner and have some type of authenticating information like a signature, PIN, or photo.

Paper world analogs of anonymous credentials are money, bus tickets, and game tokens.

Since these credentials don't have any personally identifying information, they can be exchanged between users without the issuers or relying parties being aware of that.

Let's explore the properties of both types of credentials using the example of money vs. a credit card.

What Are Digital Credentials – Do They Matter? | Certifier (2)


Money is protected from forgery by its physical attributes. But beyond that, very little information is available. Coins have the year of minting, and banknotes have serial numbers as required by law enforcement.

Credit card use, on the other hand, is conditioned by the creation of highly detailed digital records about the card owner. This means that user communities don't have the kind of privacy they have with money.

The introduction of pseudonyms is an extension of anonymity. Pseudonyms allow organizations to associate users with accounts without the ability to determine their real identities.

Apart from pseudonyms, anonymous credential systems use another cryptographic protocol – blind signatures.In these schemes, the signer never learns the message they sign nor the signature the recipient obtains.

Blind signatures are an important part of many privacy-sensitive applications such as anonymous payments, voting, and credentials for institutions.

Another credential form that brings new features to anonymous credentials is multi-show unlinkability.

Using a group signature scheme, group members can sign a message with their respective secret keys.

This signature can be verified by someone who knows the common public key, but it doesn't reveal any information about the signers, save the group membership.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Credentials?

Saving Resources

By shifting to digital credentials, businesses can save time and money. while freeing up resources for teams to develop skills that:

  • Support workforce development
  • Help grow the company
  • Improve customer experience.

For example, the Digital Marketing Institute managed to cut the time spent issuing credentials by 93.75%. After the digital transformation, the monthly workload of at least 8 hours dropped to half-hour of work while boosting team productivity.

✅ Verifiable

Verifying qualifications is a complex and time-consuming process. Paper certificates are easy to misplace or get damaged, and more often than not, employees rely on candidates to provide proof of qualification for critical skills.

Digital credentialing simplifies the process by:

  • Providing one-click verification
  • Saving time for the HR team
  • Being very hard to fake

In one study, 1,000 US professionals were surveyed about the accuracy of their resumes. About 30% of participants said that they "bent the truth" about their skills and experience.

✅ Automated

Issuing digital certificates and badges is simple and efficient because the administrative process is pretty much automated. Incorporating digital credentialing software into existing workflows can save hours of admin time each day. Made possible by a capable API and Zapier, custom integrations can take place across many of the leading Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Design and spelling mistakes always create extra costs when issuing physical academic degree credentials.

Fixing one certificate is not a big deal, but repairing hundreds or thousands doesn't come cheap. By automating the credential form, organizations can:

Automate typo correction. Let's say that recipients notice a spelling mistake in their name and submit a correction request. Instead of having a team member manually review requests, such small typos are automatically corrected by the credential platform.

Retroactively amend the design. Digital technology allows you to amend an existing certificate design and update all digital certificates with just one click.

For example, McGraw-Hill created a set of digital badges taking inspiration from the belts used in karate. After the first batch was published, they added L1, L2, L3, and L4 to represent different badge levels and circled the relevant value on each badge.

Using a digital credentialing platform, they managed to make the change and update all their previous badges with ease.

✅ Portable

Digital badges that are compliant with the OpenBadge digital identity standards can be added to existing badge backpacks.

Backpacks are the central place to manage, display, and organize digital badges.If they need convention verification in the field, recipients can upload their digital badges to digital wallets, like Apple Wallet and Google Pay. This way, individuals can easily provide credentials on-demand or prove an association membership.

Imagine you're attending an interview for a new job. The interviewer reviews your resume and asks for details about modules for a listed qualification.

You refer to your digital wallet that holds your digital badge. You take advantage of this simple situation to:

  • Provide proof of qualification
  • Inform the interviewer about your knowledge
  • Opened up a conversation topic about other digital badges you hold

✅ Shareable

Students work hard to achieve their qualifications through the learning experience. When they reach their goal, they rush to share the good news with friends and family. Digital certificates are easy to share on social media, through email signage, or on a webpage.

This givesseveral advantages over paper world analogs:

Trackable real-time engagement and views of digital badges and certificates

Increasing awareness for programs and courses, as well as the businesses with digital certificates

Improving holder employability by sharing electronic credentials to LinkedIn profiles.

How to Protect Digital Credentials from Being Forged

One of the major challenges of the digital world is that digital formats are easy to copy. Another candidate can take a peek at your digital certificate online, take a screenshot, change the name in an editing tool, and present it in the job race just as you.

That was the case with the old digital technology that relied on sharing image or document files in formats like JPG, DOC, or PDF.

These formats are not secure enough, and still sharing a visual image remains the fastest means of communication.

So how can you share visual files without them being forged? By using the latest conception of the internet, called Web 3.

The first conception was Web 1.0, or read-only web. Web 2.0 was known as the interactive, collaborative, or sharing web. This is what most of us recognize today.Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are based on it.

Now we are witnessing the emergence of Web 3.0 or the "semantic web" that brings together artificial intelligence chatbots and virtual assistants, the 3D digital iteration of the physical world known as metaverse, secure encryption of digital items, public key infrastructures, and data using blockchain technology.

This version of the web allows data to be not only accessed (Web 1.0) and shared (Web 2.0) but also verified by humans and machines.

Now we can embed an image or badge of a college degree certificate on a website or a social media page and have instant means for external verification.

Use cases of Digital Credentials

Over time, digital credentials have evolved from a whiteboard concept to a game-changer standard that supports many important education trends.

Improved Badges

When the open badge initiative was launched a decade ago, anyone could award a badge for anything. This situation exploded digital credentialing and improved signaling for learners but came at the expense of quality.

K-12 education has been a champion of badges, typically called micro-credentials, in professional learning.

For example, Digital Promise is issuing more than 450 micro-credentials that develop and verify different educator skills.

Bloomboard uses micro-credentials to support the professional learning system at Harmony Public Schools, which is a good example of a comprehensive talent development system.

For example, IBM has been issuing digital credentials that support important skills with trusted assessments.

Improved Degrees

A shift to skills-based hiring and tangible value for college degrees has prompted many institutions to make current degree programs better and present valuable skills.

Online higher education leaders like SNHU and WGU are already back mapping courses and degrees from job critical skills. Their courses are consistent with content and incorporate assessments that validate skills.

Improved Transcripts

Mastery Transcript Consortium is a network of more than 330 innovative schools in the US that have agreed to issue more meaningful transcripts that include demonstrations of mastery rather than just listing classes and grades.

Another organization, Greenlight Credentials, helps north Texas high schools build and permit a digital profile to employers and postsecondary institutions.The extended transcript incorporates traditional and new forms of evidence of learning, with add-ons that help learners tell their stories.

Improved Records

Learners are accessing multiple providers inside and outside degree programs. They are learning for life across a range of employment experiences, so they need portable interoperable records.

For example, Walmart and Salesforce developed pilot solutions that would help over two million workers capture and communicate what they are learning.

The system they came up with maintains a record of the skills required to earn each badge, and since the data is machine-readable and interoperable, it gives learners portability across institutions and employers.

Improved Incentives

A blockchain record like Greenlight Credentials can automatically execute contracts that make attainment incentives available to learners.Learners can automatically have digital curriculum standards shared on a LinkedIn profile where they are discoverable and machine-readable.

This way, if a learner gave a group of employees access to their Greenlight Credentials profile, they could automatically receive work-based learning and employment offers.

Wrapping up

Digital credentials bring consistency, data, and security to skill capture and presentation. They give learners the ability to manage their skill certificates and academic record in a portable and verified way.

On the other hand, employees who have access to digital credentials are well-positioned to make more efficient hiring practices.

Finally, organizations that issue digital credentials for learning are in a position to not only expand their programs but also contribute to the future of business.

Are you looking for a way to create credentials for your business, course, training, or something else? We have just what you need!

Sign up for Certifier for free and create your first credential in as little as 15 minutes, and wow your participants while giving them a credential they can show off!


What Are Digital Credentials – Do They Matter? | Certifier? ›

Digital credentials are digital certificates or documents that are given by a party to prove someone's qualification, claim, or achievement. Verifiable digital credentials are fraud-proof and instantly verifiable for authenticity.

What is the importance of digital credentials? ›

Digital credentials have become a popular way to showcase your skills and achievements. They are easy to share, accessible from anywhere, and can be #verified in real-time. However, the ease of creating fake digital credentials has also made it easier for people to misrepresent their qualifications.

What are examples of digital credentials? ›

Diplomas, academic and professional qualifications, certifications, security clearances, driving licenses, identity cards, passports, etc. We all own credentials like these in paper form.

What digital credential means? ›

Just as a paper-based credential could be a passport, a driver's license, a membership certificate or some kind of ticket to obtain some service, such as a cinema ticket or a public transport ticket, a digital credential is a proof of qualification, competence, or clearance that is attached to a person.

What are the 3 types of credentials? ›

The term credential encompasses educational certificates, degrees, certifications, and government-issued licenses.

How important is digital access? ›

Digital access is a key component in understanding digital citizenship. Digital access is a topic that talks about how many people actually have access to technology and educational resources within technology.

What are the most important components of a digital certificate? ›

Contents of a digital certificate
  • The distinguished name (DN) of the owner. ...
  • The public key of the owner.
  • The date on which the certificate is issued.
  • The date on which the certificate expires.
  • The distinguished name of the issuing CA.
  • The digital signature of the issuing CA.
Aug 11, 2022

What is the most common use of digital certificate? ›

Digital certificate authentication helps organizations ensure that only trusted devices and users can connect to their networks. Another common use of digital certificates is to confirm the authenticity of a website to a web browser, which is also known as a secure sockets layer or SSL certificate.

What are 3 things included in a digital certificate? ›

Digital certificates include the public key being certified, identifying information about the entity that owns the public key, metadata relating to the digital certificate and a digital signature of the public key the certificate issuer created.

What is the most common digital certificate? ›

1. TLS/SSL certificates: TLS/SSL certificates which stand for Transport Layer Security/ Secure Socket Layer is a type of digital certificate that ensures the information transfer or communication between the client and the server is secured and encrypted.

What do digital certificates verify? ›

Digital certificates are issued by trusted parties, called certificate authorities, to verify the identity of an entity, such as a client or server. The digital certificate serves two purposes: it verifies the owner's identity and it makes the owner's public key available.

Is a digital certificate good? ›

Digital certificates ensure both the identity and secure encryption of a website, individual, organization, device, user or server. They are the foundation to implementing Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) security.

What is the difference between digital and certificate? ›

The most basic difference between a digital signature and a digital certificate is that a digital signature is used to verify the authenticity of a specific document, whereas a digital certificate is used to create an identity for a website.

How do I know what my credentials are? ›

Accessing Credential Manager
  1. To open Credential Manager, type credential manager in the search box on the taskbar and select Credential Manager Control panel.
  2. Select Web Credentials or Windows Credentials to access the credentials you want to manage.

What are credentials behind your name? ›

What are credentials? Credentials are letters placed after a person's name to indicate that the individual hold's a specific title, position, academic degree, accreditation or office. Also known as post-nominal letters, credentials can signify a specific military decoration or honor.

What credentials should you put after your name? ›

List the highest education degree first, for example, Michael Anderson, PhD, MSN. In most cases, one degree is enough, but if your second degree is in another relevant field, you may choose to list it. For example, a nurse executive might choose Nancy Gordon, MBA, MSN, RN.

What are the problems with digital access? ›

These include lack of resources to pay for hardware, technology, and Internet access; lack of electricity; lack of education and knowledge about the use of technology; and physical limitations that limit access.

What are issues with digital access? ›

Digital Issues
  • Authenticating Information. Whether you are doing a little research, following a news story, or sharing interesting things on social media, the Internet is a never-ending source of information. ...
  • Cyberbullying. ...
  • Cyber Security. ...
  • Excessive Internet Use. ...
  • Gambling. ...
  • Online Hate. ...
  • Online Ethics. ...
  • Online Marketing.

What is digital importance? ›

Even if you are in some other part of the world, digital technology allows you to connect with friends, family, and work remotely. You can communicate using words, audio, video, and other media.

Who needs digital certificates? ›

Public web servers, or internet-facing servers, are required to have a digital certificate signed by a trusted CA. The TLS/SSL certificates can be domain validated, which is used for websites, or organization validated, which is used for light business authentication.

What are the two most critical fields in the digital certificate? ›

The most important fields are a public key for use in asymmetric cryptography, a domain name, and an expiration date. The fields in a certificate are all linked together because they are signed by the private key of some certificate authority (CA), which verifies the certificate as genuine.

How do digital certificates work? ›

A digital certificate is an electronic document issued by a Certificate Authority (CA). It contains the public key for a digital signature and specifies the identity associated with the key, such as the name of an organization. The certificate is used to confirm that the public key belongs to the specific organization.

What is a real life example of a digital certificate? ›

Client Certificates or Digital IDs are used to identify one user to another, a user to a machine, or a machine to another machine. One common example is emails, where the sender digitally signs the communication, and the recipient verifies the signature.

What can a digital certificate not be used for? ›

Which of the following can a digital certificate NOT be used for? A digital certificate does not verify the authenticity of a CA; rather, a CA verifies the authenticity of a user.

How are digital certificates authenticated? ›

For authentication purposes, certificates make use of a public key and a related private key. The issuing CA binds these keys, along with other information about the certificate owner, to the certificate itself for identification purposes.

What are the six main elements included on a digital certificate? ›

A digital certificate includes six main elements, including: 1) Certificate owner's identifying information, such as name, organization address, and so on 2) Certificate owner's public key 3) Dates between which the certificate is valid 4) Serial number of the certificate 5) Name of the certificate issuer 6) Digital ...

Which is not included in a digital certificate? ›

The CA's certificate contains its public key. Digital certificates do not contain your private key.

WHO issues digital certificates? ›

A licensed Certifying Authority (CA) issues the digital signature. Certifying Authority (CA) means a person who has been granted a license to issue a digital signature certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT-Act 2000.

Can a digital certificate be used to authenticate a user? ›

Certificate-based authentication is the process of establishing your identity using electronic documents known as digital certificates. A digital certificate is like an electronic passport used to prove your identity by confirming your ownership of a private key. Digital certificates contain: Identification data.

Do digital certificates provide confidentiality? ›

Digital signatures provide authenticity protection, integrity protection, and non-repudiation, but not confidentiality protection.

Does digital certificate ensure confidentiality? ›

A digital signature does not provide confidentiality. In other words, data that is not encrypted data can bear a digital signature.

How long does a digital certificate last? ›

TLS/SSL Certificate Validity Periods are currently 398 days, or about 13 months.

Is an online certificate worth anything? ›

If you already have a job, online certificates can boost productivity and growth, which increases your value to your employer. To get the most from listing these certifications in your CV, ensure that they align with the job position you are currently in or aspiring to get.

How are digital certificates secure? ›

Digital certificates provide protection against impersonation because a digital certificate binds a public key to its owner. Digital certificates are also known as public key certificates because they provide assurance about the ownership of a public key.

Is a digital certificate standard? ›

Most digital certificates in use today follow what is known as the X. 509 standard. X. 509 is used in SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security), so yes, it's what's being used in HTTPS, FTPS, WebDAVS and other secure data transfer protocols.

What are the levels of digital certificate? ›

There are three distinct levels of Authentication when it comes to SSL/TLS Certificates. They are Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV). While all three have their uses, one is definitively better than the other two.

What does verify your credentials mean? ›

Credential verifications enable you to verify if your candidate has the work experience, the education qualifications, the professional memberships and or trade licences they state they have. Credentials may be essential to your company reach its goals and safeguarding your reputation.

What do credentials show? ›

Credentials include training time required as a condition of hiring, which often results in certifications, licenses, or educational certificates and are part of the education, training, and experience requirements.

What are credentials to prove? ›

Credentials offer proof of a fact, or of qualifications. A driver's license, a doctor's badge, or a diploma all count as credentials — as long as they're real! One document can be a credential, but the word usually still gets pluralized.

Do employers verify credentials? ›

Education credentials employers most often verify

Over time, employers may value the experience and skills you bring over where you went to school and what kind of degree you have, but those things are key when starting out.”

Should I put my credentials in my email signature? ›

In summary, there are two general rules for academic/professional communications, which includes e-mail signature blocks: (1) only include the degree and credentials that you have earned, and (2) when in doubt about what to include, less is generally more.

Do you put your degree behind your name? ›

When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas (e.g., Mary Doe, Ph. D., spoke.). The word “degree” should not follow an abbreviation (e.g., She has a B.A. in English literature, not She has a B.A. degree in English literature.).

What are examples of professional credentials? ›

Your academic degree(s), whether you've earned one or a combination of various degrees— such as a BA, BS, MA, MS, EdD, or PhD—are all credentials. The difference between an academic degree and many professional credentials is that one does not have to demonstrate continuous learning to keep an academic degree.

Do certifications go after your name? ›

Those from the academic world use academic credentials first, nursing credentials next, and then certifications — for example, Jane Arnold, MS, RN, CNOR. Either way is correct.

Can you put mph after your name? ›

The most common letters after people's names are PhD, MD, JD/LLD, MSW/DSW, RN, MPH (Master of Public Health), MFA (Master of Fine Art), MEd (Master of Education), PsyD (psychologist), MVDr (veterinary medicine), DO (osteopath), DC (chiropractor), EdD, PharmD (pharmacist), DDiv (Doctor of Divinity), MPA (Public ...

What are examples of credentials? ›

what are examples of credentials? educational degrees include doctoral degrees (PhD, DrPH, DNS, EdD, DNP), master's degrees (MSN, MS, MA), bachelor's degrees (BS, BSN, BA), and associate degrees (AD, ADN). licensure credentials include RN and LPN.

What are the three usage modes for digital credentials? ›

There are three types of online credentials: digital badges, micro-credentials, and digital certificates. All three types revolve around the same concept that digital credentials provide a better link to opportunities than current paper transcripts.

Which of the following are types of digital certificates? ›

Different types of digital certification

There are three main types of public key certificates: TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer) certificates, client certificates, and code signing certificates.

What are credentials and why are they important? ›

Credentials include training time required as a condition of hiring, which often results in certifications, licenses, or educational certificates and are part of the education, training, and experience requirements.

What are my personal credentials? ›

These can include anything that demonstrates an individual's ability and qualification to do certain work, such as a university degree or college diploma, a Microsoft certification, a driver's licence, or even testimonials.

Are digital certificates worth it? ›

Earning a digital marketing certificate can be a valuable investment in your career, particularly if you are looking to transition into the field or want to build upon your existing skills.

Can digital certificates be valid? ›

Digital certificates validity periods are specific to each type of certificate. Currently, code signing certificates are valid for up to three years while SSL certificates are valid for just over one year.

What are the different types of credentials used in an access control system? ›

4 Types of Access Control Credentials
  • RFID. Historically, the most common credential is RFID technology using some sort of card or fob (something you have). ...
  • PIN Codes. ...
  • Biometric. ...
  • Mobile Credentials.
Aug 31, 2021

What are the benefits of digital certificate? ›

What are the benefits of a Digital Certificate?
  • Digital Certificates are Socially Shareable. ...
  • Digital Certificates are More Secure. ...
  • Digital Certificates are Delivered Instantly. ...
  • Digital Certificates Can Become Paper Certificates.


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