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FIS-backed Billon Group receives UK grant for blockchain COVID-19 certificates

covid 19 certificate

Last week, the Billon Group announced it won a £50,000 ($62,000) grant from Innovate UK to build a blockchain solution for storing COVID-19 certificates. The startup, backed by payments giant FIS, aims to release a prototype by August-end, which would allow sharing and verifying test reports or immunity certificates as well as workplace training certificates related to COVID-19 procedures.

Innovate UK provided £20 million ($25m) in funding to develop solutions to fight the coronavirus as part of its Fast Start Competition and Billon was one of 800 successful applicants.

Businesses and governments are still coping with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are exploring technology solutions to return to normal and restart the economy. Billon aims to address three main problems — prove training and medical test claims, ensure data privacy of users, verify the authenticity of certificates with minimal contact. 

“With this project, we want to encourage companies and health organizations to provide proper training and testing and to take advantage of new blockchain and identity management technology to equip people to prove they have an authentic certificate — while hiding private data from those that would exploit it,” said David Putts, Chief Growth Officer of Billon. 

The prototype will be a plug-and-play solution to allow certificate issuers to connect their existing systems to the blockchain. Meanwhile, users would be able to manage their certificates using mobile phones. In terms of data privacy, the blockchain links the certificates to the user’s identity, and are encrypted with keys that only the user and issuer can use. 

Billon Group has developed a document management platform using a proprietary proof of stake permissioned distributed ledger technology (DLT). It stores encrypted documents on-chain and claims to be GDPR compliant. The solution is being used by the Polish Credit Bureau (BIK) to send blockchain-based notifications. The company is also working with Poland’s energy utility Tauron for the storage and delivery of contracts. 

Billon Group is backed by FIS and has raised $16 million to date. The company is registered as an e-money issuer in the UK and Poland. It recently announced it was working with Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) to tokenize bank account cash as RBI Coin. 

Some of the organizations exploring blockchain for COVID-19 include the UK’s Open University, the COVID Credentials Initiative, Swiss ticketing firm TIXnGOICCBaseline Protocol, and U.S.-based quantum dot producer Quantum Material Corp, among several others.