Health Identity News

Mastercard and ICC to explore interoperability of digital health credentials

health certificate passport travel

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Mastercard are partnering to explore the possibility of making their digital health pass solutions interoperable. Mastercard explained that the interoperability isn’t just between different health credentials but also between other technologies such as passports or identity and tickets.

As border restrictions ease up and travel begins to return to normalcy, most governments are requiring incoming travelers to present negative Covid-19 test results, and there are discussions about the feasibility of imposing proof of vaccination as well. The proofs are commonly accepted at border control in paper form. Beyond travel, immunity passports are relevant for admission to events and access to offices.

The problem with paper certificates is that they are easy to falsify, take time and resources to be validated, and can be spoiled or lost. As such, exploring digital solutions that foster a trustworthy, traceable, and convenient health credentialing process will be essential for a smooth transition to traveling. 

Many blockchain solutions are currently being trialed or already being implemented by airlines for Covid-19 health credentials. The issue is that none seems prepared to expand to a global scale fast enough to support international travel at pre-pandemic levels. Mastercard and ICC’s initiative is taking a step forward in addressing this matter by fostering interoperability between the two organizations’ digital solutions.

In May of 2020, ICC launched ICC AOKpass, a blockchain-powered digital health passport that enabled travelers to present Covid-19 test results at border control without compromising personal data. It is currently being trialed by Air France, Alitalia, Air Caraïbes, Etihad Airline, and elsewhere. As for Mastercard, the company has been expanding tests of its digital identity service, ID, in the context of digital health passports. ID has completed successful trials in Glasgow and London Gatwick airports to determine the key components for health certificate interoperability. 

Part of the joint initiative’s aim is to aid governments in their recovery strategies by enabling them to apply various digital health pass solutions to specific situations. For example, with travel, different solutions are being administered by different airlines. Their interoperability is critical for the easing of border restrictions and for the management of Covid-19 credentials. 

ICC and Mastercard are part of ID2020’s Good Health Pass Collaborative. The initiative is also backed by the Airports Council International, Hyperledger, IBM, the Covid Credentials Initiative, and others. Its aim is to eliminate the friction of health credentials in the process of returning to normalcy for travel. Outside of travel, together the ICC and Mastercard are exploring other scenarios and want to engage with “civil society, business, and government to advocate for such solutions”.

“Delivering a global, interoperable health pass system can only happen if we come together in a way that meets the needs of everyone involved.” said Ajay Bhalla, President of Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard. “Together with ICC, its member organisations and our partners in the Good Health Pass Collaborative, we can work to get the world moving again and jumpstart the global economic engine.”

Meanwhile, blockchain health credentials are also being developed for motives beyond travel. IBM developed a Digital Health Pass for companies to verify employee health status, and the State of New York is piloting the blockchain health certificate app to show proof of vaccination or negative test results. Big Blue was also recently awarded a project for German health certificates alongside local firms.