Patrik Slettman is the CEO and founder of True, a Swedish tech company that issues blockchain-enabled documents that are impossible to forge. It’s a constant headache for organisations, academia, and government agencies to validate degrees, diplomas, and other documents that, if proven to be fraudulent, will cost businesses time, money, and reputation.
In what ways can false documents hurt businesses?
— Criminals use forged documents to steal identities and gain access to information and sensitive data, which is then used for a number of different purposes. Another common area is counterfeiting to carry out transactions of various kinds. This damages both organisations and individuals legally, financially, and reputationally — especially when the purpose is to spread false information.
— If you issue your important official documents with our technology, it becomes very, very difficult for people to falsify them or to do anything wrong with your documents. It’s our job to go out there and to educate people on the fact that there is some prevention. There is a vaccine.
So, how does this vaccine work?
— The simplest way of explaining our technology is that we allow organizations to automatically create, issue, send, and store blockchain-secured documents. Then, they are published on their own domain. Since they’re blockchain secured, they’re immutable forever. They can never be changed once they’re created.
— Blockchain really is the enabler here. We couldn’t have done this 10 or 15 years ago because then we would have had to trust Microsoft, Oracle, or the Swedish government to do this. It’s difficult to verify something that’s been created without this technology. Traceability and availability are key.
And how is blockchain perceived by your clients? Do you have to explain it a lot?
— We don’t talk too much about blockchain with our customers. We explain it briefly and highlight what the technology enables, and most people don’t care. They just want to know that it’s secure and what you can do with it.
— And True is not at all associated with crypto, because you can’t sell a certificate. I’m really glad we stayed out of crypto because I think if we went into crypto, in any sort of way, I would be really worried about the current state of it. It would have affected at least the notion of what we do.
What kind of organisations are using your technology right now, and what for?
— The most common document so far for all of our clients is educational proof. Diplomas, certificates, specific course certificates, academic transcripts, and such. Then, we have a lot of national associations that give out memberships, accreditations and certifications of organisations. We also help companies give out official awards, both to companies and individuals like ’Employee of the Month’ or that a company is a certified good workplace.
— Just recently, we also signed companies that are going to use the technology for notaries and notary stations, so lawyers can notarise documents with our technology. We have signed with auction house Kaplan to give out a certificate of authenticity for jewellery and watches — as you can tell, the use cases are many.
Physical certificates or diplomas usually come with a sense of pride, and it’s not rare to see them framed in people’s homes or at businesses. How do you apply this to digital documents?
— We can all relate to receiving a very important document, like your driver’s license or the proof of your first apartment. A document itself can sometimes feel magical, that you’ve got the proof of achievement. We’ve seen the same thing with our documents; people love to share them on LinkedIn and such. Having documents that ”live” online puts them in a new context that makes it both easier to understand and more transparent, because it’s easier to trace the origin and the recipient.
— Documents become a tool instead of sitting in a binder somewhere or on a hard drive, not doing anything. The documents become a tool for communication, marketing, transparency, and for building trust.