Cost analysis for universities of implementing a proof of certification system on blockchains


My name is Emanuel Groh and I am currently writing a thesis at the German university WHU-Otto-Beisheim School of Management, on the subject “Proof of certification through blockchain technology”.
Under the supervision of my Professor, I address the question of whether it is worthwhile for universities to save the diplomas of their graduates using decentralised networks, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, so that companies can independently verify the accuracy of these certificates without having to contact the university.

In order to create a reasonable cost-benefit analysis, I need information about the costs that universities incur when they implement such a blockchain based system. Hence, as this forum contains multiple experts, I would like to ask if I could post some cost related questions here or if possible conduct a short interview about this topic with one of the lead developers, via Skype for example.

I would be very thankful for your support and it might lead to numerous German universities implementing this blockchain based technology.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Thank you in advance and best regards,


One of the lead developers, @kim, talks about it here.

Ensure you’ve transferred sufficient funds to your issuing address to cover the transaction fee:

  • The transaction fee is the same no matter the number of certificates in the batch.
  • The default transaction fee used by cert-issuer is ~$1.50 USD.
  • Because the transaction fee is a factor in confirmation time, you may decide to increase or decrease this value in the config file.

If you can get an interview and spread around the fact that it’s cheap to issue a batch of certificates, then that’ll help the digital verification movement. So good luck on that thesis :mage:


Thanks for your reply Madison :slight_smile:

If my university now wants to implement this system based on Blockcerts, what was your estimate on how long a single average unspecialised IT expert, working full time, would need to implement this system?

And how much involvement of this expert is required after the infrastructure has been set up. Is his or her support required every time a batch of certificates is published?

Greeting from Germany,

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Good question, Emanuel.

If you’re kindhearted then you’ll give them a month. Although tutorials of this length usually don’t take more than a day or two to complete (you just download a bunch of libraries as instructed, and then run the commands listed in the tutorial as instructed), there’s likely a lot of elements in the background here that your expert is unfamiliar with, so you want to keep their stress levels low and allow them time to explore and learn the right way :woman_astronaut:. For example, they’ll learn how to make a bitcoin wallet (a bitcoin address and a private key) for your institution, and how to put some funds on it. They’ll see some unfamiliar JSON syntax. And finally they’ll scavenge google to debug scary dev-environment error codes.

As far involvement goes, it depends on what you tell them to build. If you tell them to build an application that allows non-technical users to build certificates and issue them (like perhaps an HTML page, or terminal program, that lets you input things like Certificate Description, a CSV of graduating students, Institution Name, etc), then you probably won’t need to see them again after they set that up for you (unless some exceptional error occurs), especially if they leave you a little instruction sheet explaining how to do the maintenance, like how to refill the institution’s wallet with more funds when needed.

At least that’s been my experience so far as a developer using these tools, developing for a non-technical audience. I hope that helps :man_student:.


Thanks Madison,

Your answer really really helps me out to estimate the actual costs my university would incur. Your support is incredible and I really appreciate the commitment of the community! :+1:

Is there any other source of costs that you could think of, particularly from a technical side?
As far as I understood, we do not have to run a full node, so the costs from simply running the program in the background shouldn’t be to large right?

Thank again for your help!!

P.S. Is it fine for you if I use some of your inputs as references in my thesis?

Sure, Emanuel, use whatever you’d like.

I can’t really think of any other technical costs, since you’re just creating JSON files using the toolset, and then the toolset writes to the blockchain through an API call (rather than by running a full node). I suppose if the programmer is tasked with creating a service for non-techies to use, then they might want to host a web interface, which could require a remote computer, domain name, and that sort of thing.

But I get the feeling that your IT expert’s knowledge surpasses mine, so they might setup some internal system like universities like to do, which use their own machines and network (like your campus’s helpdesk ticketing service is internal to the campus’s network). And the IT expert would know more about those costs than I would.

In other words, writing certificates to the blockchain using this toolset is cheap. Any costs incurred would depend on the specifics of the application you would like to build around the act of writing certs to the blockchain. I’m a full-time student with no income, and I’m about to issue certificates with my lunch money :joy:


Thanks Madison!
Appreciate your effort :+1:

Hi Emanuel,
I am also a student from Germany and very interested in this topic. I wanted to ask how far are you with your research as to how many universities in Germany are actually interested in this technology. I am currently forming a team to make a software/service package that could allow universities to easily issue and maintain certified degrees on the blockchain. It would be really great to get in touch!

Hi Paula,
I am still working on my thesis. However, it is quite difficult to get in touch with universities. My plan is currently to finish my research within the next 4-5 weeks. I’d be happy to get in touch with you.