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Wa’ed, Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm, has invested $1.5 million in IR4LAB, one of Saudi Arabia’s first blockchain technology start-ups, whose products assist companies in detecting fake resumes and professional certifications.
The Gulf is particularly hard-hit by certification fraud. In 2020, the Saudi Council of Engineers reported detecting over 2,799 cases of fraud from non-Saudi job applicants who made false claims about professional qualifications.
Wa’ed intends to counteract this with the IR4LAB blockchain digital platform, which validates the legitimacy of professional credentials.
IR4LAB’s certification solution “DocCerts,” launched in 2017, enables Saudi professional and technical certification providers to produce digital, irreversible, and instantaneously verifiable certifications that big employers like Aramco may access when recruiting.
The security and speed offered by blockchain technology will shorten the certificate verification process from weeks to a matter of seconds. The digital solution developed by Dhahran-based IR4LAB will also assist to standardise corporate procedures and cut expenses.
“Blockchain digital platforms, such as IR4LAB’s, provide employers with a higher level of certainty that a job candidate’s certification is legitimate, which can speed up employment decisions. There are several more deployment options for such technology,” said Abdullah O. Al-Baiz, Saudi Aramco’s Chief Digital Officer.
IR4LAB will use Wa’ed’s investment to expand the coverage of their DocCerts product to more professional certification societies, boost their client base, and solidify a collaboration with Aramco’s Digital Transformation Office.
Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco has made significant investments in blockchain solutions across a variety of industries and with international partners. It led a $30 million financing round in Red Date Technology, the technological architect of China’s Blockchain-based Service Network, earlier this month.
Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures joined in a second financing round for blockchain company Data Gumbo in 2020, which is investigating industrial smart contracts in the oil and gas industry.
Wa’ed, which was founded in 2011 by Saudi Aramco, provides loan financing to start-ups. Its venture capital section now manages a $200 million investment fund with a portfolio of over 30 Saudi-based firms.