IR4LAB, one of Saudi Arabia’s first blockchain companies whose solutions are helping corporations root out resume and professional certification fraud, received a $1.5 million investment today from Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Aramco.
Dhahran-based IR4LAB plans to use the cash injection to increase its customer base, expand the breadth of its coverage to more professional certification societies and intensify an ongoing partnership with Aramco’s Digital Transformation Office.
Created in 2017, IR4LAB’s certification product “DocCerts” enables professional and technical certification providers and training centres to issue digital, immutable and instantly verifiable certificates that companies such as Aramco can use to determine whether workers and job applicants possess valid training certificates.
Certification fraud is a growing problem in the Gulf and around the world. Workers without authentic credentials jeopardize workplace safety and put themselves and others at risk. The Saudi Council of Engineers said it detected more than 2,799 cases of fraud in 2020 from non-Saudi job applicants falsely claiming professional certificates.
IR4LAB’s software digital solution uses blockchain technology to link Saudi professional societies in a protected online environment with large employers such as Aramco, to verify certification status for job applicants in a matter of seconds, a process that normally, takes days or weeks. Blockchain digital solutions standardize business processes and reduce costs.
“Saudi Aramco is systematically capitalizing on digital technology breakthroughs that accelerate business creation, support local content, promote efficiency and bring a more sustainable future” said Mr. Abdullah O. Al-Baiz, Saudi Aramco Chief Digital Officer. Aramco is using the IR4LAB blockchain digital platform to verify the authenticity of professional certificates.
“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.” Mr. Al-Baiz said.
Encouraging growth in developing and deploying blockchain and other Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies is a focus of Saudi’s Vision 2030 economic blueprint. Investments in blockchain technology are rising in the Kingdom. The Saudi central bank (SAMA) in 2020 deployed blockchain technology to enable money transfers.
“Wa’ed is pleased to support IR4LAB, one of Saudi Arabia’s emerging blockchain leaders,” said Wassim Basrawi, Wa’ed Managing Director. “IR4LAB’s blockchain digital solution, which helps simplify and streamline business processes, is the kind of paradigm-changing innovation we support at Wa’ed.”
Majd Al-Afifi, the CEO and Co-founder of IR4LAB, said the investment from Wa’ed will help IR4LAB speed introduction of blockchain digital solutions in the Saudi public and private sectors, accelerating efficiency gains and driving economic growth.
“Blockchain is a transformative digital technology and we are proud to help the Kingdom stay at the forefront of this change,” said Al-Afifi, who started IR4LAB with co-founder Mohamed El Kandri, who is IR4LAB’s chief technology officer. “Our goal is to bring home the benefits of blockchain digital solutions to Saudis across the Kingdom.”
Al-Afifi and El Kandri got the idea for IR4LAB while doing graduate work at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. After analyzing the Saudi market and meeting with government and industry leaders, the duo decided to apply their blockchain knowledge to the field of professional certifications. But that, they say, is only the beginning.
Blockchain technology has broader use in fields such as education, industry, transport and logistics, and IR4LAB, El Kandri said, is only at the beginning of its work.