Testing Out BlockSign: Can Blockchain Tech be Applied to Digital Signatures?

By August 6, 2014Bitcoin Business
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What Bitcoin did for currency the team behind BlockSign hopes their new services can do for people’s signatures.

On Monday, a New York company that specializes in digital badges, Basno, announced it had launched a service called BlockSign that would create a public ledger (i.e. a blockchain) to verify the ownership of digitally signed documents such as contracts, agreements and NDAs.

“We were inspired to create a service that would be simple, low cost and secure,” co-creator Nicholas Thorne said in a statement. “The blockchain is uniquely capable of making that possible and allows us to make a simple but powerful promise: People will always have easy, free access to private records of what they’ve signed with BlockSign.”

How BlockSign Works

Cryptography can make unique signatures almost un-forgeable. That coupled with an open-source framework for keeping records could be a great leap forward over e-signature services that don’t use blockchain technology.

I gave BlockSign a try, and the process is very simple and user-friendly.

To sign a document, all you need to do is upload it and create a profile for yourself. The site lets you choose the location for your digital signature(s) then sends you a newly signed version of the document you uploaded.

The signature has four elements: Your name, your email address, the date the document was signed, and the unique address where the document’s signature can be publicly verified. As with Bitcoin, confirmations take a little while (BlockSign’s site says wait times can take up to 2 days).

During this launch week, BlockSign’s services are free. Afterward, users can sign up for a free account and get five signatures done for free. Additional signatures will then be available for purchase.

Applications of Crypto-Signatures

In late May, CoinTelegraph reported on an interview M.K. Lords did with attorney Pamela Morgan about smart contracts and P2P law. Being able to verify the authenticity of documents along a blockchain is definitely a step in the direction of what Morgan called “collaborative law”:

“At its core, a collaborative law agreement is simply a contract. If it’s simply a contract between two parties and a judge will enforce it, there’s no reason why we couldn’t use those same principles with blockchain arbitration.

“Make the decision, have the contracts, and then present that to a judge if it needed to be enforced later. If we needed to avail ourselves of the traditional legal system, we would be able to do that.”

Smart contracts and blockchain arbitration have not yet arrived, but BlockSign’s launch is a clear indication that law is a fertile field for blockchain technology applications.

That starts with the signature, a historically weak means of identifying rightful ownership.

"Most people are not yet using any digital signature product, relying instead on signing with pen and paper. Those are the people that we are most focused on serving,” Thorne said in a statement. “Our goal is to allow people to go about their daily business, sign documents, keep track of exactly what they've signed, and have full confidence that no one can ever change what they've signed or forge their signature.”

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