What happens on the Blockchain, stays on the Blockchain. With this premise, the Blockchain-based notarization platform Signatura, previously known as Bit Court, wants to use Bitcoin’s underlying technology to provide an easy way to certify and validate legal documents with no requirement to trust on third parties.
On Tuesday, the Buenos Aires-based company released the first public beta of a service that seeks to bring Bitcoin’s disruptive nature to the legal industry and beyond. The announcement comes after a private beta testing that included dozens of lawyers interested in using the notarization service.
Signatura co-founder Franco Amati told Cointelegraph that the platform “allows multiple parties to jointly sign legally binding documents, and notarize them in such a way that no one can repudiate its date, content or signatures.”
Amati envisions a wide range of applications including digitally signed contracts, certification of company workflows and digital work attribution among others. Also, targeting corporations and government entities, the company plans to release API libraries that will allow institutional users to integrate the platform with their existing softwares.
Backed by the Bitcoin’s Blockchain
At times, when many companies are neglecting the Bitcoin Blockchain open, permissionless features, Signatura has picked the crypto-currency distributed ledger for the very reasons others rejected it. Amati explains that the Bitcoin’s Blockchain unique features are key to providing a service that doesn’t require trust on third parties.
The decision to use Bitcoin Blockchain, Amati says, provides “legal and conclusive proof of the document’s integrity, signatures and timestamps.”
The platform creates a “multisig address” from the public keys of the document’s signers that is recorded on the Blockchain. The transaction is embedded with the document hash—previously signed by the participants— the date and other relevant data.
“We need to assure our clients that their signatures can’t be erased or modified by third parties, and the Bitcoin Blockchain is the one that better fits our needs in this matter,” Amati says.
Using the Blockchain to certify documents assures “that signatures will still be valid and verifiable if the service goes offline or is discontinued, along with its permanent timestamp, which is not set by a third party,” he adds.
For future versions, Signatura plans to add other features such as the option to set deadlines for signing a document using the new OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY opcode, that allows creating a time-locked Bitcoin transactions.
“Nevertheless, we are working with Rootstock — our next-door office neighbors at the Buenos Aires Bitcoin Center— to have RSA opcodes on their smart contract platform,” Amati says. “With them we could be supporting existing RSA identity certificates in Signatura.”
Digital signatures have been around for decades and in some countries are heavily regulated, but Amati is not worried about that.
“Digital signature regulations are different from place to place. Some like Europe are very open, others like Argentina need a licensed certificate authority (CA) for many of its uses,” he says.
“Using a Blockchain doesn’t change the legal status of digital signatures. It gives the advantage of adding certainty about how those signatures and timestamps were preserved, providing proof that they were not replaced.”
Signatura was founded last year and took part in NXTP Labs’ Fintech Accelerator and later and later won FintechStage Buenos Aires competition’s first prize.
Amati said after winning the contest and getting in touch with companies, government entities and financial institutions they realized “how undeveloped the industry is in terms of digital signature technology.”