Halifax-based ValidCert, a blockchain- and SaaS-based company that validates people’s credentials, has completed a soft launch of its product with the Research Innovation and Commercialization Centre in Ontario.

The company aims to prevent people from using fraudulent diplomas or other certificates by offering a secure site where institutions can host digital credentials for their graduates. These graduates can allow people – such as HR execs with companies they hope to work for – access to their records and feel comfortable that they are viewing a genuine document.

The company started about four months ago and has already attracted as its early adopter the Research Innovation and Commercialization Centre, or RIC Centre. After a beta test with this group, the company hopes to eventually secure post-secondary institutions as clients, so they can stop the fraudulent use of diplomas.

“ValidCert is really focusing on protecting the accomplishments of students in educational institutions, by allowing them to share their certification and also by streamlining process and reducing costs,” said CEO and Co-Founder Sanjay Khanna.

“Our objective is to protect the data and accomplishments of educational institutions and students to share and store information in a simple and secure way that will streamline processes to increase trust and engagement while reducing costs and workload.”

ValidCert aims to address a prevalent problem faced by universities and other post-secondary institutions: fraudulent certification. According to the company’s website, there were 2 million fake certificates in circulation in 2020 and 300 unauthorized universities in operation.

This creates a huge problem for companies who want to hire the best people possible, because they have few ways of checking to see whether someone’s certificates are genuine. “The disadvantage to the university is it affects their brand and their reputation if the students present themselves as a graduate of a program when they’re not,” added Khanna in an interview.

“The other challenge is the time it takes for recruiters to research whether documents are valid and ValidCert can reduce costs.”

The verification solution is underpinned by blockchain, the technology that is used for cryptocurrencies, and the Software-as-a-Service platform is hosted on the cloud.

The first organization to sign up for the solution is the Brampton-based RIC Centre, which is a not-for-profit innovation hub and business incubator for companies in Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon, and other communities in Southern Ontario. Khanna said ValidCert is helping the centre’s entrepreneurs in a free pilot to share their valid certifications on a trusted platform.

Khanna, who co-founded the company with a partner in India, hopes to do business with universities but says the sales cycle is longer with these institutions. The company is looking to initiate talks with such universities as Dalhousie University and  Saint Mary’s University (where Khanna did his MBA). He's also targeting institutions in which blockchain courses are currently in the curriculum such as University of British Columbia and University of Toronto.

Khanna, who is working out of the Volta innovation hub, has financed the development of the company so far by bootstrapping.