• Saurat Fred

A new generation of more secure e-signature blockchain enabled

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

As the enterprise world moves, faster than expected, into the digital age, physical records are more and more challenged.

The benefits of using electronic documents, such as immediate accessibility, ease to manage and store them, cost and time savings, go hand in hand with the concerns that electronic signatures can’t be trusted, service providers do not respect data privacy (Facebook syndrome) and records can be more easily manipulated or even lost.

When it comes to digital documents and e-signatures, blockchain technology associated to a distributed file storage solution can definitively put those concerns to rest. And it is exactly how the DocOnChain platform is built.

To simplify, blockchain technology can be considered as an electronic decentralized ledger where data and files aren't stored in their original forms, but rather in the form of cryptographic fingerprints.

Each fingerprint is completely unique, and immutable tied to the underlying electronic file or digital data. In other words, once a fingerprint is added in the blockchain, it is virtually impossible to alter it. The only way to affect the original data is to add to it, an action that would be recorded and time-stamped (as another block in the blockchain), making blockchain tamper-evident.

Because blockchain records are tamper-proof, electronic records cannot be improperly manipulated or forged.

Governments and enterprises are starting to notice the potential applications of this technology, outside of the cryptocurrency world. Blockchain can be used to maintain the integrity and verifiability of transactions and if a signature on a document is technically considered as a transaction you can also start to understand the potential.

One of the major points of concern regarding e-signature is the fact that 1) we can't verify the signer identity and 2) digital documents can be more easily accessible and altered than paper versions. This is something that a blockchain architecture, well designed, can address and even more if associated to a distributed file storage system which enables files to be sharded, encrypted and duplicated before to be stored in different places.

On one hand, blockchain provides a high level of security that comes from the fact that an electronic document is not stored on a blockchain ledger and on the other hand, a distributed file storage system provides a high level of privacy because the document itself is encrypted and not stored in one place which makes it impossible to access even by the service provider. Only the document issuer and its signers have the ability to access the document while having the document signature history recorded in the blockchain ledger via the transaction fingerprints which are unique and immutable cryptographic sequences (the hashes) useless outside of the blockchain context but useful to prove that a document exist and when and by who it was signed.

Governments in different countries (China can be considered as the most advanced) have already understood that blockchain technology will significantly influence both how attorneys and enterprises issue contracts, corporate filings, notarization, dispute resolution, and more… and how tax administrations and enterprises can take advantage of the new digital age by using, for example, an e-invoice system also blockchain managed.

However, there are several blockchain platforms on the market and all are not well designed to answer expectations. There are public and private blockchains, centralized or decentralized, permissionless or permissioned ones. All are not based on the same architecture, contracts and consensus systems (the way where transactions are verified and accepted as a new block in the blockchain).

Application and platform developers need to consider blockchain as a solution for a part of their application backend but, for sure, not as a ‘magic box’ that can answer everything. Provide the right platform or application that can answer the specific needs of an industry or a community is still the key to develop a ‘must have’ product.

The elements above are some of the few we have seriously considered before building our DocOnChain collaborative platform to sign, manage and store digital documents.

In conclusion, ‘yes’, blockchain is enabling a new generation of digital signature to emerge, more secure and privacy respective but when searching for the best e-signature and document management app, consider a platform that integrate blockchain technology and DFS (Distributed File Storage) inside a larger solution that answers all your needs.

Try DocOnChain now