Why the Bitcoin blockchain?


Hi there,
I’m curious about why Blockcerts chose to operate on the Bitcoin blockchain, and not another one like Ethereum. What factors influenced that decision? Is it because it has such a large community? And does that mean that it’s tied to that blockchain with no way to change in the future?


Thanks for this question. The goal of Blockcerts is to provide a common set of patterns so that credentials can be issued/verified across any blockchain, and across different market domains. When research started in 2015, the Bitcoin blockchain was really the only option.

In 2016, there was some discussion about spending developer resources to expand to Ethereum, and then the DAO happened. Ethereum’s hard fork and frequent exploits made it seem unreliable for credentials that need to last a lifetime. So, the people working on this project decided to make documentation for Bitcoin as useful as possible, while keeping it open to cover other blockchains in the future.

In 2017, Ethereum has gained huge momentum with developers and many are asking for Blockcerts to expand documentation (and reference implementations) to include Ethereum. Since this is an open-source community, I hope that developers will begin contributing to make this expansion happen, particularly since it will be pretty straightforward.

Further, as various networks begin utilizing the DID specification, it will become easier for Blockcerts verification to verify across any of these decentralized networks (Blockstack, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Sovrin, etc.).


Thanks for the reply, Chris. Definitely answers my question.


Hi Chris, will the Bticoin chain split impact the Blockcerts standard and if yes then how will it be mitigated?


Blockcerts was designed to write/verify to any blockchain, so a chain split wouldn’t affect this set of libraries. While the foundation for this work is complete, more chains do necessitate small extensions and more specific documentation for each, as is already planned for Ethereum.


Hi Ankit,
If there is a split:

  • all previously issued Blockcerts transactions will exist in both chains and will continue to be verifiable
  • tying into Chris’s response, going forward, there would be new standard ways of referring to the different chains (similar to like eth and eth classic). So the Blockcerts standard would be updated to allow referring to whichever one the transaction was issued on.