The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is funding Trust Stamp a company using the Ethereum blockchain and artificial intelligence to create an identity authentication system for real estate applications.
The startup, which now receives part of its $400,000 in funding from NAR's investment arm REach, trades on the concept of an Airbnb or uber-like trust scoring system.
Its founders Gareth Genner and Andrew Gowasack say the technology will allow individuals to easily share aspects of their identity with professionals.
Trust Stamp is one of seven companies which entered the REach incubator in April. Operated by Second Century Ventures REach is fully owned by NAR and conducts investments on its behalf.
Launched in 2015, Trust Stamp essentially works by creating an Ethereum contract unique to an individual, which becomes their identity.
The data is hashed to a user's private key, which unlocks the information and allows them to provide legal verification of their identity, including a photo, name and any other verified data.
Trust Stamp’s founders says sensitive consumer information will be stored off-blockchain, but that it will be accessible using its Ethereum smart contracts.
Genner told CoinDesk , this means users create an account, provide basic information including a photo, connect social media applications and share their trust scores with others.
According to CoinDesk Genner envisions an interface that will enable users to share different aspects of their identity as needed.
"The contract (will reveal) what you chose to share," he says.
"At a minimum you have to share your legal personality, we have to know who you are. The contract then gives you the option to share other things," Genner says in the report.
As an example for a potential real estate application, Genner says agents could use the tech to request information from other users to verify that someone seeking to view a million-dollar listing could actually purchase the home.
Overall, Genner believes Trust Stamp could deliver safety benefits in any situation where professionals or consumers are seeking to meet someone new.
REach managing director Mark Birschbach told CoinDesk the incubator sees potential for blockchain technologies to ease frictions in the real estate industry.
"We're looking at technologies that can aid our members rather than replace them," Birschbach says in the report.
"We saw right away that this is a tool that could do well in the industry, but obviously there’s underlying tech that is interesting and far reaching."
For example he points to one of the NAR’s realtor members who was last year kidnapped and murdered, a tragic event prompting REach to consider how technology can play a role in helping improve the safety of its members.
"Last year, we had a technology in our (incubation) program that was a safety device, a faster and easier way to indicate to 911 that a realtor might be in trouble. Trust Stump is an extension of that, where safety is still on everyone’s mind," Birschbach says.
CoinDesk reports Trust Stamp is one of many other projects in the wider blockchain ecosystem seeking to provide trusted data verification. These include digital identity startups such as ShoCard and OneName, which have together raised nearly $3m in venture capital to date.