Wa’ed, Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm, is investing $1.5 million into one of Saudi Arabia’s first blockchain technology start-ups IR4LAB, whose solutions help corporations detect fraudulent resumes and professional qualifications.
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 plans to combat this through the IR4LAB blockchain digital platform, which verifies the authenticity of professional certificates.
Created in 2017, IR4LAB’s certification product “DocCerts” allows Saudi professional and technical certification providers to issue digital, immutable and instantly verifiable certificates that large employers such as Aramco can access when recruiting.
The security and speed offered by blockchain technology will shorten the certificate verification process from weeks to a matter of seconds. Dhahran-based IR4LAB’s digital solution will also help to standardize business processes and reduce costs.
“Blockchain digital platforms such as IR4LAB’s give employers a greater degree of certainty that certification for a job candidate is legitimate, which can accelerate employment decision making. There are many other deployment opportunities for such technology,” said Abdullah O. Al-Baiz, Chief Digital Officer of Saudi Aramco.
Wa’ed’s investment will be used by IR4LAB to expand the coverage of their DocCerts product to more professional certification societies, increase their customer base and consolidate a partnership with Aramco’s Digital Transformation Office.
Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco has been investing heavily in blockchain solutions across numerous sectors and with international partners. Last month, it led a $30 million funding round in Red Date Technology, the technical architect behind China’s Blockchain-based Service Network.
In 2020, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures participated in a second funding round for blockchain firm Data Gumbo, which is exploring industrial smart contracts in the oil and gas industry.
Established by Saudi Aramco in 2011, Wa’ed offers loan financing to start-ups. Currently, its venture capital division oversees a $200 million investment fund covering a portfolio of over 30 Saudi-based companies.