Companies Block Financial Misinformation with Wiztrust

New York, NY, USA, March 10, 2020

Digital transformation: The Wiztopic platform deploys its solution Wiztrust based on the blockchain to help companies fight against fake news.

The risk of spreading fake news ranks 5th in the list of threats deemed a priority by companies, just behind political instability. The phenomenon of "news hacking" should be taken seriously because it is very expensive for companies, as evidenced by the fine of five million euros received by the Bloomberg agency after the dissemination of false information in 2016, leading to a 20% drop in the value of Vinci. The annual cost of financial misinformation estimated at 17 billion dollars in 2019, had 9.5 billion dollars of negative impact added to the reputation of companies and their managers.

Launched a year ago, Wiztrust, a blockchain-based tool, promises listed groups the ability to regain control over the corporate and financial information they disseminate. Around a hundred companies are currently using the Wiztrust solution, developed by the French platform Wiztopic, during a time where these malicious acts are affecting the financial markets.

How does the platform work? For each certified document, a fingerprint is created instantly by Wiztrust. Wiztrust extracts metadata from the document then encrypts the information and anchors it in the blockchain. Issuers can then distribute the certified document by e-mail or via their website. At the end of the chain, the recipients of these documents (media, investors, analysts, etc.) ensure the authenticity of the digital file received by a group's communication department by integrating it into the free Wiztrust.com platform. "We can ensure that a document is authentic, but we can't ensure that it's fake," Jérôme Lascombe, founder and president of Wiztopic, told ZDNet.

Ensuring the circulation of authentic and unaltered information

Even if the probability of being targeted by an attack is limited, says Jérôme Lascombe, this solution is finding its place on the market. "All companies are directly or indirectly affected by financial misinformation," says the founder. "When information is manipulated, it is the shareholders who suffer.

In addition to the financial aspect, the stakes for companies are also legal and reputational: "the AMF General Regulation states that companies are responsible for the security of the information they disseminate," notes Jérôme Lascombe. In January 2019, BlackRock's CEO, Larry Fink, was the victim of a hoax: a false annual letter sent on his behalf to the financial markets and the press, gave false information about BlackRock's gradual withdrawal from the fossil fuel industry. Far from going unnoticed, the letter was picked up by some US media.

"It is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect the reputation of the company, its employees and management," Emmanuel Guinot, Head of Campaigns, Content & Digital of the Renault Group, told ZDNet. Renault adopted Wiztrust last month to certify all its press releases.

The number and quality of customers is the strength of the blockchain.

According to Jérôme Lascombe, Wiztrust's strength lies in "the solidity of its technology. The blockchain provides technical and logical security". According to Becky Edwards, director of communication at Schneider Electric, the technology of the blockchain helps to restore confidence: "Digital technology is transforming traditional communication and information practices while blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction. This does not mean that our targets are any less insightful. Rather, it means that we, communicators and journalists, have a duty to authenticate and control our contributions and sources to protect them from fake news.

This blockchain-based solution was adopted by French groups from the CAC 40 and smaller companies in the finance, real estate, and insurance sectors (Engie, Bouygues, Crédit Agricole, Renault, Schneider Electric, etc.).

The number and quality of the intermediaries active on the blockchain is, in this respect, a sign of confidence: "when most CAC 40 companies and major financial institutions adopt a platform such as Wiztrust, the recipients of information are more inclined to use the same platform to verify information from issuers," observes Emmanuel Guinot.

A responsibility shared by the media

While Wiztrust delivers more than 100 certifications on certain days, the activity of the verification platform is more confidential," admits Jérôme Lascombe. "We've gone up to nine audits for one document. More often than not, it's around two or three audits, if any," he says.

To make its work known to the media, the Wiztopic team "is starting to train editorial staff, such as AFP's economic and financial department and the editorial staff of Les Echos," says Lascombe. The media themselves are taking on this work of fact-checking. The New York Times launched its research unit called "The News Provenance Project" with the support of IBM. "We chose the blockchain because its data structure can help maintain a transparent and unalterable record of a photograph's origins: when, where and by whom it was taken, who published it and how it was used," the medium justifies on its cover page. "The blockchain is the best technology for restoring confidence or giving confidence," says Lascombe.

The platform, which signs an average of "two to four new customers per month", is only at the "beginning of the story", he says. "The objective would be to have at least 25 to 30 CAC 40 clients. Jérôme Lascombe also says he is looking at the American and British markets. Wiztrust was also approached by companies on the other side of the Atlantic, says Lascombe.

Source: Wiztopic translation ZDNet article publish on 03/06/2020

Wiztrust was created by Wiztopic, the publisher of a platform solution for communications teams of financial and publicly listed companies. With Wiztopic, companies can manage, distribute and measure the performance of their content. With Wiztrust they can now protect their content and shareholders interest. Discover Wiztrust here.

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