This company is worried about reputation so you don’t have to be This company is worried about reputation so you don’t have to be

Yazin Alirhayim’s young company offers a unique concept: a reputation verification tool that aids buyers and sellers to trust one another when they transact online.

Verify describes itself as a distributed reputation protocol built on the Ethereum blockchain that facilitates trust-based transactions. In simple terms, the system records the history of all transactions that take place and the rating given to them by both parties. For those that build a good reputation, it offers benefits.

Yazin Alirhayim, the enterprising entrepreneur behind the concept, explains further: “The Verify protocol assigns participants a reputation score that is dynamically adjusted based on their participation in the network. Each transaction or participation in the network is ensured using CRED tokens; i.e. an insurance policy for every transaction that happens in the network. The insurance policy is set to protect both buyers and sellers. It is important to note that a transaction does not necessarily mean payments, but it means any kind of participation between parties in the network.”

So, what does this mean for buyers and sellers?

“Our platform solves significant challenges both for the buyers and sellers. So for instance, first-time buyers can be assured that they won’t be short-changed by the buyer. Meanwhile, sellers can transact with the confidence that they will receive timely payments from the buyer. The idea is to make it easier for people to transact online. But, it’s not just that. The beauty of the platform is that you can build applications on it. We’ve added Verify payments as an application on our platform and this gives our users an added benefit,” he explains.

The region’s first token sale

Verify began operations in 2017 and straightaway considered going down the route of an initial coin offering or ICO. An ICO, which is also referred to as a token sale, is when investors back up a company in exchange for digital coins. “We recently completed a US$2.5 million token sale that was oversubscribed by three times. We had over US$7 million in commitment and had to turn down a majority of these funds. Our goal in the short term is to establish dominance in a niche market by building a compelling blockchain-powered solution that no existing financial instrument can compete with,” he beams. “This funding will go towards covering our operating expenses for the next 18 to 24 months. We are currently hiring for several key technical and business development positions.”

Alirhayim is still reeling in the success of his recent token sale, a special accomplishment for his young start-up because it’s the first of its kind in the region. Token sales differ from traditional equity investments in that the company is not selling “stocks”, but a utility token that buyers would be able to use when on the platform. In Verify’s case, the tokens pre-sold are used as “insurance policies” on transactions that take place on the network – no seller can complete a transaction without these tokens.

Re-wired for the future 

His entire focus for the past few months was preparation and execution of a successful token sale. But, he now hopes to shift focus towards the customer and product development, where he will talk to customers and build out the product in tandem. “Our goal is to build a product that solves a problem today, not to implement an idea that we think could be useful. This requires that customer development i.e. getting out and talking to prospective users of the product goes together with product development. Our plan is to start with a niche market that has strong demand for the solution we are providing, dominate that market and then later expand into other niches,” he explains.

And, how does Alirhayim plan to execute this? “By listening to customers, both current and prospective,” he quickly responds. He is also keeping his eye on trends that have the potential to impact his business. “Blockchain is going to have a huge impact on how we conduct business and not for the obvious reason (Bitcoin, etc.). I think the real potential lies in using this technology to run existing business applications more efficiently both technically and operationally,” he adds.

In fact, Alirhayim thinks that we’re just scratching the surface in terms of where the financial services industry is headed. “I predict truly borderless payments. Today, we’re tied to bank accounts in specific countries and fees vary massively depending on the origin/destination of funds. I see us transitioning to a point in the future where anyone connected to the internet will be a first-class citizen of the internet and all the peripheral services like banking will follow,” he quips. To tap into the massive potential that the sector holds, Alirhayim urges small businesses to pull up their socks. “It’s easy to think that larger companies know what they’re doing and that they have a disproportionately large chance at duplicating any success you may achieve. That’s thoroughly untrue,” he advises.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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