Blockchain-Based “Vaccination Passports” Launch in New York State

Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York state, has announced the launch of a blockchain-powered vaccination passport that will be used in New York City. The digital passport, dubbed the Excelsior Pass, was built on top of IBM’s Digital Health Pass.

According to the official announcement, the passport is a “free and voluntary way to share COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test status in accordance with New York State guidelines.” The Excelsior Pass can be used “to gain entry to major stadiums and arenas, wedding receptions, or catered and other events above the social gathering limit.”

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According to a New York State blog post: “the Excelsior Pass will confirm an individual’s vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test through a confidential data transfer” between businesses in accordance with New York State law.

Major venues already using Excelsior Pass; smaller venues can adopt the pass on April 2nd

Steve LaFleche, the General Manager of IBM Public and Federal Markets, said in an official announcement that: “IBM is proud to support the State of New York with its efforts to apply innovative technologies to help residents and communities respond to COVID-19.”

“In choosing a flexible and accessible tool that places security and privacy at its core, the state is modeling for the rest of the country how new, technology-enabled approaches can help safely reinvigorate economies while also striving to protect public health.”

So far, a number of major venues throughout the state have said that they will soon begin using the Excelsior Pass, including Madison Square Garden in New York City and Times Union Center in Albany. Excelsior Pass will be available for use by smaller arts, entertainment and event venues after April 2nd.

“The Question of ‘Public Health or the Economy’ Has Always Been a False Choice — the Answer Must Be Both.”

Andrew Cuomo seems to hope that the Excelsior Pass can help New Yorkers return to ‘normal’ life while keeping adequate safety measures in place. “The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both,” Cuomo said in an official statement.

“As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”

The upcoming launch of the Excelsior Pass follows a successful trial at a Brooklyn Nets NBA game in late February. Governor Cuomo originally revealed plans for a blockchain-powered passport on March 2nd.

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