Introducing V4Escrow's IP Transfers platform. Blacklist report, escrow.com, Docusign, Intuit Quicbooks API integrations.
2020 was a weird year. The COVID-19 pandemic found V4Escrow in a good position but nobody could previously predict if the IP Brokerage business will survive a global pandemic. By July we realized that everything was coming back to normal, customers needed more and more IPs and the price per IP was still the same.
In February, as customers were canceling their plans to buy or sell IPv4 addresses I found out that I had a lot of free time. So, I started working on a platform I had in my mind, a platform that I kept delaying for many years as I was too busy building personalized transfer processes for our customers.
I found a great partner in Razvan Tudor and Tuxido in March 2020 and after hundreds of hours of whatsapp/zoom/slack calls, a partnership was formed. We started talking about the blacklisting report, about the transfer process, about site design, etc. and soon enough we realized that Tuxido could build a great platform for V4Escrow.
V4Escrow already had a functional blacklisting report so we started focusing on other modules. For months in a row I would get my phone, laptop and headphones and work (between the hours of 11PM and 6AM) with Razvan and Alin, his genius employee, to build the first version of the https://www.v4escrow.com IP Transfer platform.
Between March and May we worked on the design of the website, the transfer process and the (workflow) steps involved, both on the Buyer and Seller Side.
Alin joined the programming team in May and he has been a valuable asset since.
In May we decided to use and integrate Docusign and Intuit’s Quickbooks APIs. We were going to use Docusign for digital signing of contracts and documentation required by the RIRs for the transfer of the IP Addresses.
We tried using whois to populate the ORGid once an IP block was added to the platform. It was not easy to figure out in which RIR a block is registered so we initially tried to do a whois in all 5 RIRs. We gave up on the idea when we realized that the RIPEstat DATA API could provide the data we needed from all the RIRs, all we had to do is tweak the whois flags and play with the API.
We also started using the RIPEstat Data API to collect geolocation and routing history information. We also verify that when a Buyer introduces an ORGid as the ORG receiving the IP Addresses, that ORGid exists and can receive PA/PI IP addresses through Transfers.
In June we worked a lot on Intuit’s Quickbooks API and we were able to generate invoices automatically and also check whether or when an invoice was paid. This was very useful as we wanted to automate the workflow steps as much as possible. We also worked on integrating the Docusign API as we decided to use Docusign for both the contract that will be signed between V4Escrow and the Customer (Seller or Buyer) and also all the documentation that needed to be signed by either party as requested by their RIR.
We also started using the RIPEstat Data API to collect transfer history of the IP blocks added for sale on the platform. Unfortunately, the RIPEstat Data API is still missing ARIN and LACNIC transfer history information and even though we have asked RIPE NCC for it for more than 6 months now, we still do not have an ETA. We are still working on adding ARIN and LACNIC transfer history on the reports we generate for each IP block.
We also tried to add facebook chat and whatsapp chat integrations. In the end, after many tests we decided to actually use tawk.to for live chat on the platform.
The commission per company was integrated and each company had a commission per block size as part of the contract signed with V4Escrow. This is also the moment we took the decision to charge the company Selling the IPs 100% of the broker commission and make it transparent at the moment the block is added for sale. So, to make it very clear, only the Seller pays a brokerage commission. There are other fees (escrow.com fee, RIR Transfer fee) that may need to be paid either by the Seller, the Buyer or 50/50, more about that in a future article about fees.
As the process for an Intra-RIR and an Inter-RIR transfer varies from RIR to RIR, a module was created to allow different instructions to both Buyers and Sellers depending on their RIRs. With 5 RIRs and 9 NIRs, this easily became a very complex setup. However, as we wanted to provide complete instructions to customers, we started populating the instructions for every possible combination. We hope that in 2021 we will be able to work with the RIRs and NIRs to automate all the transfer processes.
It was in June that we decided to publish the whole list of events and include the option of sending messages for each event. Buyer, Seller or Broker could send messages using the event log. We also added a contract status that could be changed by a workflow step, the Buyer’s confirmation, the Seller’s confirmation or the Broker.
Lastly, we integrated the existing blacklist report and we now verify the IP addresses added for sale in more than 270 blacklists in the world.
In July we completed the Docusign API integration, Quickbooks API automatic invoicing and automatic workflow step change once invoice is paid, Testimonials, automated Workflow Steps, automated instructions based on Receiving RIR and Offering RIR, resolved so that users can not add IP blocks for sale from the IANA IPv4 Special Registry. Documents can be uploaded per company. A company can have two types of users - Full Access and Read Only. E-mails are being sent automatically to notify customer of status change.
We went live with version 1.0 on the 15th of July 2020.
Between August and December we redesigned the graphics and text, we show blocks as list and grid/cards, added notifications, integrated APNIC RDAP history, ARIN whowas, RIPE historical whois, cache of 24 hours for all the information we collect so pages load quickly, SpamHaus DROP warning on top of all the blacklist checks we make, Seller and Buyer trigger next workflow step, signup capcha to avoid bots/spam registration and many other features and bug fixes.
We created two payment integrations, the escrow.com payment method and V4Escrow payment method, Seller can chose which payment method they accept and can accept either or both.
When we integrated escrow.com as a payment method using their API , we allowed customers that sell via escrow.com to sell in $ and €. This payment method is automated via EscrowPay API and payments & payment confirmations are also automated. All transfer steps have been integrated in our user interface (UI) and as long as a customer already has an account with escrow.com, the rest of the transfer and payment steps are done using our UI.
We also added an auction module so Seller can list the IP addresses for sale either for a fixed price or list them in an auction.
We went live with version 1.3.0 on the 30th of December 2020.
There are, probably, a lot of features that I forgot to mention in this first article of 2021. I will write articles dedicated for Buyers, Sellers and Brokers in the following weeks. Every step will be explained and you will see instructions and detailed information about our platform and how we have designed it to be fully automated and tailored to help every customer, regardless in which RIR or NIR they want the IPs registered.
Happy New Year!