The Case for a Blockchain eSignature Solution

22 Oct 2021

VeriDoc Global

COVID-19 has no doubt impacted how many people do business today. The most noticeable is the growing use of QR codes, eSignatures and video conferencing tools.

Changing how we go about signing documents has been overdue for some time now. Just think of the inefficiencies of printing, signing, scanning and emailing to then repeating the same process to countersign a document. The process is extremely inefficient and doesn’t prevent someone from committing a forgery by signing for someone else. Plus, a world looking to go contactless and paperless to reduce its carbon footprint suggests that a digital solution was the next best step forward.

Electronic signatures have been around since the late 1990’s so the concept isn’t a brand new one. However, with growing interest in eSignatures and the rise in new technologies such as blockchain, has the common eSignature solution become outdated?

The biggest issue that eSignature solutions face right now is the ability to secure and verify a document. If a document cannot be verified, then the eSignature solution is no better than someone copy-pasting their signature using an editing app. This also means that copy-pasting someone else’s signature is also possible and this is a major concern.

So how do you secure and verify an electronically signed document?

Several common eSignature solutions attach a document referred to as a certificate, which shows the timestamp and the IP address of the signer. The major issue with this approach is that both the document and the certificate can be modified using PDF editors, so the certificate does very little to protect the signed document. The other issue is that a certificate doesn’t prevent someone from changing the contents of the main document. It typically focuses on signature time stamps and there is no way of validating the timestamps either.

Blockchain has a significant use case for eSignatures on many levels.

Firstly, blockchain can be used as a public ledger to validate timestamp records. The immutable nature of the blockchain means that timestamps cannot be manipulated. Unlike common eSignature solutions, fraudsters can’t simply edit the timestamp on a certificate. Metadata can also be added to the blockchain to link the timestamp to a signature and user without compromising on privacy.

Additionally, blockchain can be used to secure and verify the main document using the document’s unique digital fingerprint. This has the effect of preventing fraudsters from making changes to the contents of a document and from illegally copy-pasting signatures.

The transparent nature of the blockchain provides a major upgrade from having to trust an editable certificate to keep your main document safe. An auditor could independently calculate a document’s SHA-256 hash (unique digital fingerprint) and compare this to the record on the blockchain to ensure that the document is genuine and unchanged. Since records on the blockchain cannot be altered, it eliminates any risks associated with internal tampering by bad actors as seen with centralized systems.

There is a compelling use case for a blockchain-based eSignature solution especially around the topic of document and eSignature verification. Put simply, blockchain technology adds layers of trust that have not been achievable until today.

As futuristic as it all may sound, the answer isn’t years away either. VeriDoc Global has already developed and launched the world’s first blockchain eSignature solution, VeriDoc Sign.

VeriDoc Sign leverages the blockchain to secure and verify the main document, as well as validate eSignatures and timestamps.

Below is an infographic outlining some of the main differences.

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This article was written by Daniel da Silva Lay, COO VeriDoc Global.

This article was first posted on Medium.