There are several good Digital Signature solutions available on the market today. These solutions are very feature-rich, but basically allow you to add legally binding signatures to documents. They also offer the functionality to enable external parties to sign documents.
Disadvantages of traditional solutions
First of all, these traditional signatures can only be added to PDF and Office documents. Only those format offers support for storing the signed certificates.
Some solutions, like DocuSign, allow you to bundle several other document formats, but they then just convert these documents to a PDF.
And you also need to get an official certificate only available from a limited group of Adobe approved central Certification Authorities (CA). And a limited choice means they are expensive.
Besides this dependency on a central CA, you are also dependent on a central Time-stamping server.
Another drawback is that the the digital signature is stored inside the document. This means that whoever needs to check if a document is signed, will also have full read access to all the content in the document. Not something you may want!
And parallel signing of documents is not possible, because the document content changes when inserting each signature! As a consequence, everybody needs to sign a document sequentially. This means delays in processing and chasing people who forget to sign.
Our Blockchain-powered Digital Signature API offers the same functionality and the same legal basis as the traditional Digital Signature solutions.
Plus, we add important functionality to create much better solutions.
1. Sign any digital object
Like the PDF limitation: we support Digital Signatures for any type of digital object, not just PDFs. With our Blockchain-powered solution we support all office documents, as well as AutoCAD drawings, pictures, videos, audio, or just any digital data object.
Think about exchanging XML messages, log-files, designs, emails themselves, sending a ZIP or hand-over of files to another organization.
2. Additional information on Blockchain
We also enable you to add additional information to the transaction on Blockchain, for example the party that signed, the status, or any other value. This creates a secure, external and independently verifiable audit log of the whole signing history.
3. Independent verification
With the registration on a Blockchain, the Digital Signature also lives independently of the object, which enables independent verification, with or without the necessity of having access to the object itself.
So, you can prove – beyond doubt – that a contract was signed, without the need to reveal the document itself to third parties or non-authorized users.
4. No need for expensive certificates
Since we no longer depend on a limited group of Adobe-approved certificate vendors (the so-called AATL list), you can get a certificate from any Trust Service Provider (TSP). In fact, you could event create your Public/Private Keys or use other Digital Identity systems.
For instance, we use Microsoft Azure KeyVault, a very, very secure (FIPS 140-2 Level 2 certified) Hardware Security Module (HSM).
5. Parallel signing of documents
Since the object is not changed by the signature, it also enables you to sign documents in parallel. This will greatly speed up the process in cases where multiple parties need to check and sign documents. It also enables you to implement business rules based on mandates, 4-eyes, majority vote, seniority, etc.
This is yet another use case that proves that Blockchain can be used to create better solutions that will change the way we work and do things.