SOLANA BEACH – Matter Now, Inc. – a spinout of Solana Beach software company Kromeon – is at the forefront of bringing transparency to the scandal-plagued carbon credit market.
“It was the wild west for a very long time,” said Matter Now Founder and CEO JP Palacio. “A lot of companies signed up to purchase carbon credits and they were defrauded by a lot of these agencies and individuals who said they had carbon credits. The verification process broke apart.”
To address the broken verification process, Matter Now – which officially became its own incorporated entity as of Jan. 1 – is developing a blockchain-based platform to address changes in the carbon credit market, where companies that produce carbon pollution purchase offsets from stakeholders that reduce atmospheric carbon emissions, for example a farmer returning part of his property to marshland or a timber operator reserving forest trees rather than harvesting them.
Although the carbon credit marketplace has companies like Vera, South Pole and Gold Standard to verify the carbon savings produced by the landowners, the market has lacked a transparent process that ensures that the carbon credit was sold to just one company. When a carbon credit is sold to more than one customer, it is called double counting and the practice has been a black eye on this industry for years, upsetting environmentalists wary about carbon producers getting away with pollution, companies purchasing devalued credits and the regulators that honor the credits, such as IRS, alike.
In March of last year, the World Economic Forum released a paper calling for the carbon credit market to adopt digital ledger technology, or blockchain, to address the lack of transparency that leads to fraud and double counting.
“The good thing about blockchain is it’s immutable – once it’s there it stays there forever,” Palacio said. “The way to harness energy of blockchain is taking carbon credits that have been verified by legit verifiers and then adding another layer of security putting the credits on the blockchain before they’re purchased by Delta or Coca-Cola. It gives them the transparency but also the provenance of where the carbon credit came from.”
Blockchain technology in the carbon credit space is not new, Palacio said, but where Matter Now differs form previous companies is that it uses the blockchain as a ledger that acts as a permanent record and receipt of purchased credits, rather than use it to produce carbon credit token or coins.
“A lot of companies try to tokenize carbon credits and fractionalize them – that was a big mistake. Tokenization didn’t work,” he said, adding that because it failed to put a check on fraud in the market, regulators eventually acted. “When the new standards came out last summer, they fell exactly in line with what we were doing.”
The reason that Palacio and the web3 developers at his software firm Kromeon were doing carbon credit programming in the first place was because of a client who contracted the company to build an educational system that teaches farmers and other landowners how to sell carbon credits as a supplemental income stream.
“The project went really well,” Palacio said of his client’s company, Cathbad House.
Working on the Cathbad House project, Palacio said, led him to “look down the supply chain” of the carbon credit market, where he saw the opportunity to not only develop a transparent market, but also ultimately purchase land to produce carbon credits.
After developing the technology that powers Matter Now – the blockchain that provides the public ledger of carbon credit purchases as well as the software that generates a receipt that fulfills what the IRS needs to lower a purchaser’s tax rate – Palacio ultimately incorporated the company to acquire Cathbed House from his client, who he said was no longer interested in investing in the project.
“This move isn’t just a business expansion; it’s a step toward our vision of a greener future,” Palacio said. “By combining Cathbad’s innovative educational approaches and blockchain technology with Matter’s existing infrastructure, we’re setting a new standard for environmental responsibility in the carbon credit market.”
Matter Now is currently looking for more companies to acquire, specifically companies that are working on solutions to automate the process of adding and integrating carbon credit projects.
“Like the admin side of a project,” he said, adding that the industry has so far been receptive to what Matter Now can offer. “Not one door closed on us. Everyone was excited that there was a marketplace coming. We built an amazing network.”
That network includes partnerships with leading verification companies like Vera and South Pole as well as connections to large carbon credit purchasers like oil companies and tech firms.
With the revenue generated through its marketplace, Palacio said Matter Now’s goal is to purchase $90-100 million worth of land by 2026.
“I think that’s attainable,” he said.
Matter Now, Inc.
CEO: JP Palacio
HEADQUARTERS: Solana Beach
BUSINESS: Carbon credit marketplace
NOTABLE: Matter Now’s blockchain ledger technology aligns with standards set by regulators in summer of 2023, making the company one of the first to be able to offer transparency to carbon credit purchases.