The Netherlands has become a mini hub of activity for cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Whilst at the Digibyte Summit in Amsterdam last month, I saw one company – V-ID – showing how its technology can protect not just digital files from manipulation, but also physical files.
This week I sat down with co-founder Pim Voets and lead business developer Joshua Jenster to discuss how V-ID came about, what the company hopes to achieve, and of course, how V-ID managed to put an original Rembrandt piece of art onto a blockchain.
The ideas behind V-ID have been in the pipeline for some time now. Pim had previously been working with the three other co-founders for 15 years in a company that “made secure platforms for secure communications and information management”.
“One of the logical demands from that market was something like V-ID, so that is how the project began, but it soon grew out. We realised that V-ID could be potentially huge, which is when we decided to separate it from our main company and V-ID was created,” Pim recalls.
Joshua is a more recent recruit, but he is no less enthusiastic. Coming from a technological background having studied programming, he soon found his passion “lied in trying to understand a client’s language and matching it with our language and that of our developers. Understanding the client’s needs and their issues and how we can solve that. So far V-ID has been perfect for me to achieve this.”
The goals of V-ID
Blockchain technology can be extremely complex and difficult to understand, particularly from a business perspective. Yet the goals of V-ID are succinctly summed up by Pim:
“Our mission is to eliminate digital fraud and errors to stimulate innovation while society is digitising, so that is our main goal. To do that we have developed a platform that protects the authenticity of any digital file against manipulation. What that means is that we can validate files on one side and any recipient can verify the file in five seconds to see if the content is the same as when it was published.”
But as for why blockchain is necessary in this process, Josh states: “Blockchain does come with a few characteristics – it’s immutable, it’s secure, and it’s transparent. That’s actually the most important part of the service we are delivering. We don’t want to be that party who edits or owns the transactions, so we wanted a public chain so everyone could see the transparency side of it all.
“If the technology we were looking at was a private database or something similar, there are issues as we are still the owners of all the transactions, so we could theoretically become corrupt. With a blockchain, we ensure the customer and the whole world that it’s secure, transparent, and immutable.”
The V-ID token
V-ID comes with its own token as well, which is used in all transactions. During our chat, Pim explains the necessity of the V-ID token:
“Customers can buy bundles of VIDT, and with those bundles you can validate your files so you can pay in VIDT. We anchor the digital fingerprint in several blockchains and they all have fluctuating rates for transactions, so we compensate that with the V-ID token price for validation, so that’s how VIDT is used. It’s also more transparent as you can see how many VIDT I have and how many transactions I can do.”
One of the key aims of V-ID according to both Joshua and Pim is ease of use and adoption, so the company wants to compensate for businesses or people who are not the most technologically savvy, as Joshua states: “Customers go through our website and buy a licence model and they buy stamps (used for validation), so if a customer is interested in blockchain they can buy V-ID tokens directly and we can explain how it works.
“But if they don’t understand, we can just explain the document validation service. It really depends on the type of customer and what kind of knowledge they want. The V-ID token is always used but it can depend on the customer and their package.”
Partnership with Digibyte
It was through the partnership with Digibyte that I first heard of V-ID myself, and that exposure has been one of the key benefits of their alliance. With the help of fellow Dutchman and Digibyte advocate Rudy Bouwman, Pim has been able to highlight the key aspects V-ID is looking for in a blockchain.
Discussing the benefits of Digibyte, Pim states: “For our use case, and for our mission, there are instances where we are looking for the lowest possible transaction fees and as many nodes as possible, as we are about safety in numbers. Digibyte also had a good community, so we were already interested in using them.”
Rembrandt is on the blockchain
When the Digibyte Summit took place last month, V-ID was given a platform to showcase what it had achieved with an important member of Dutch history. In partnership with Douwes Fine Art and law firm CMS, V-ID immortalised a 17th century painting by Rembrandt.
Joshua goes on to say how this is a “great example of how a piece of physical paper really has value, and you want to be able to protect this value. It was great for us to be able to show what the value of V-ID can be not just for digital files, but for physical files.
“We are extremely proud that we can put our digital stamp on it and show that V-ID can be used to not only increase value, but protect their value. Rembrandt is known worldwide, so it was a proud moment where we could validate the heritage through this case.”
The future for V-ID
Joshua notes that the future of the company is difficult to put into words as “we are growing so fast. We have a major update coming up soon so we have a lot of things planned. Right now, we are focused on adoption, awareness, use cases, and having people sign up, aligning our mission with the deals that we do. We are definitely in a growing stage at the moment.”
For Pim, the future lies in automating V-ID under the hood so that “people can go on with their workflow without noticing it is there”.
The team hopes to achieve this through using APIs. Pim states: “We already have the tools to do everything, like manually validate the document and check the document, but really the volume you can make with APIs. So we are looking very strongly at rolling out APIs that can plug into systems that produce PDFs so these PDFs can be validated with the APIs without people noticing.”
With the business growing at a rapid pace, the future looks bright for V-ID and its application of blockchain technology.