0xcert Head of Community Urban Osvald talking with Jure Zih, CEO and Kristjan Sedlak, CTO.
What is 0xcert?
Jure Zih, CEO: 0xcert is an open protocol for certified non-fungible tokens. There are fungible and non-fungible tokens on the blockchain. Until recently, most tokens were fungible. When non-fungible tokens were first introduced in Crypto Kittens, applying this concept to certificates and documents with ownership rights seemed like a great idea. And that is how xcert, our non-fungible token, was born.
Xcert is a non-fungible token in the 0xcert protocol. Each xcert is unique and carries an imprint of a unique real-world digital asset that is generated as a part of the certification process using an advanced hashing algorithm. Once it is generated, you own it! It is placed in your wallet, you can transfer it to another wallet, delete it, you can have it reissued. But basically, it serves as a proof of ownership over different digital assets — a proof of your educational degree, a proof of authenticity, etc. — and it can be easily pulled in any dapp through Metamask and used instantly as a verified proof. That is our key value added, which we are trying to bring to the market, that is, to provide the protocol, the underlying technology, on top of which it’s super easy to build dapps to communicate with the blockchain.
How do you differentiate from your competitors?
Jure: What we are trying to do is something new. We want to bring value to the market, to the developers, and provide the protocol with using ERC-721 token. Developers can use the protocol for building dapps easier and faster, removing the burden of communicating with the blockchain. 0xcert protocol can shorten the time of developing dapps from days to hours. I can’t say we have direct competitors as an open-source project. In open-source, there are no competitors, there are friends, partners, people who are building things together. Following these open-source values, we first try to build a solid foundation, which the developers can use for free to build their own dapps, and which will live in coexistence with our dapps that we will develop. Our vision is to build an ecosystem of projects, our own and of partner developers, for blockchain certification.
However, we have been following a few projects very closely. We started our project out of a need to find a solution for issuing fraud-tolerant educational certificates for my former company, Doctrina, that’s why we were looking at blockchain projects for certificates in educational field. I definitely need to mention blockcerts, which was introduced in 2014 by MIT Media Lab. They were basically pioneers in blockchain certification. Another one is BC diploma. Unfortunately, none of them is using ERC-721 non-fungible technology. We are tackling the same problems, but our approach is different and we are totally open to working with any project that is developing in the same field.
Jure Zih, 0xcert CEO: “What we are trying to do is something different. We want to bring value to the market, to the developers, and provide the protocol with using ERC-721 token.”
There are two tokens, XCT utility token and xcert non-fungible token, in 0xcert ecosystem. Why is that?
Kristjan Sedlak, CTO: We have two tokens, but they are completely different. First one is XCT. It’s a protocol token and we use it for paying the “gas”. We say it’s the fuel for the protocol. XCT is a standard ERC-20 token. These type of tokens are already well known, you can find them on exchanges, you can transfer them from wallet to wallet. Developers are familiar with how ERC-20 tokens works. The new thing in 0xcert is xcert, a non-fungible token and it is our main component. It follows ERC-721 specification and it holds information about the unique digital asset, actually a proof of it.
What are the use cases for 0xcert? You have announced Academia. Are there any others fields, 0xcert will try to tackle?
Jure: Early in the development of 0xcert project, we’ve identified academia as the field, the vertical (we call different use cases on 0xcert protocol verticals), that needs the solution more than any other. Credentials fraud in academia is a big problem and a huge business, it’s estimated to be a billion dollar business, more than 5000 diploma mills exist worldwide. Blockchain projects have already been active in education, which makes entering the market easier because people have heard about blockchain somewhere.
But there’s a lot of other verticals that can be covered on 0xcert. Recently, we started to talk with a partner who is doing KYC. KYC (Know Your Customer) is quite a regularly used procedure nowadays, ICO’s are using KYC for whitelisting supporters. Supporters need to go through KYC each time they want to enter a different ICO. The basic idea for KYC on 0xcert protocol is that you get an xcert, you store it in your wallet and can use it to get instant access to your KYC-verified details for future ICO’s or other purposes. I think it’s a good opportunity for us to explore this field. It’s a fact that we won’t be able to do all verticals but are looking for those, where we can bring most value and the best project. What we want to do is to build Academia as the first one, as a proof of concept, so that we have a real application built on top of 0xcert protocol and others will follow.
Which partnerships have you signed so far?
Jure: Because we started in academic world, most our partners so far come from education. We partnered with pretty much all private schools in the region, from IEDC, … Gea College, Cotrugli. As an advisor, we also have a professor from Cambridge University. We have partnered with the largest network of educational institutions from Bangladesh. We are currently trying to partner with several institutions from all over the world.
Which blockchain do you use?
Kristjan: We’ve chosen Ethereum for the first implementation, because of the usability. However, we want to be blockchain agnostic, therefore we look at other blockchains, too, such as Neo, EOS and so on.
Kristjan Sedlak, 0xcert CTO: “We want 0xcert protocol to be blockchain agnostic.”
What is your development roadmap?
What are your plans for building dapps?
Jure: Let me explain a bit of a background first. Kristjan and I both worked at Doctrina, which is the largest pharmaceutical online educational provider in the region and we’ve issued half a million certificates. We started thinking of a solution for Doctrina and ended building it as a separate project. I think the best first step for Academia on 0xcert would be to do a pilot with Doctrina, it’s a very good use case. After that we’ll be doing a pilot with an educational institution in the fall, probably with IEDC. We’ll see how this will unveil in the following months.
Can you tell more about the team?
Jure: We have a team of about 17 people and 9 rockstar advisors. There’s Kristjan and me, then we have Dušica Lukič as COO, a very successful business woman. She held important positions in banking, in corporate world, she has also run her own business. She sees great potential in what we are doing, which is awesome to hear and a key reason she’s decided to join us. Then we have Anja Pukl as CFO with more than 15 years experience in finance, banking, great to have if you are doing anything in crypto today. We have Urban Osvald for community management, who is in crypto world for a long time. Then we have Katja Geršak, a head of partnerships, an extremely valuable individual, extremely smart person, good to be around. There are five developers in Kristjan’s team. It’s important for a project, that we have strong development in-house.
Kristjan: All are senior developers, with in-depth experience in all technical fields, backend, blockchain… We all have previous experience in blockchain development, we were working also on exchanges.
Let’s talk more. If you have questions or would like to add to the conversation, post in the comments. We’d like to hear your thoughts about everything regarding our project.