Lately I’ve been thinking about how much duality exists in the world around us right now. On one hand, we have advanced technology like blockchain, artificial intelligence, etc… And then on the other hand you have all these archaic processes we cling to and assume to be normal.
For example, the notary continues to serve as the primary gatekeeper for document authorization and verification to this day.
Notaries help people conduct legal affairs by witnessing and verifying signatures on documents. This has obviously been an important service to stop acts of fraud by providing a legal verification and proof.
But this anachronistic effort has fulfilled its usefulness with the advent of blockchain technology.
The Purpose of Notary
The notary function has been a necessary aspect to most common law systems with a “notary public”, a public official who validates documents and can administer oaths and attestations or affirmations. In civil law, the role is even more extensive, in some jurisdictions requiring a similar level of education as attorneys.
In either system, the notary acts as a legally-certified witness to confirm the accuracy of reports and check the legitimacy of marks to the document in question.
Consider the sale of a house, for example. The notary’s function is to define the authenticity of the transactions happening between the seller and buyer. Notaries ensure both parties are genuine and real. It is a vital function to ensure such sales legally occur.
A vital function indeed, but is it absolutely necessary for all of these tasks to be performed by an individual? and in person?
The arrival of blockchain into this and many other systems promises to bring much-needed efficiencies. Timestamping documents when recording them in an immutable database resolves most issues identified with the bookkeeping procedure and consensus-building processes associated with current notary practices.
Blockchain also takes into account constructing a straightforward and simple, auditable bookkeeping framework, where the possibility of backdating is extraordinarily low and tampering with records is virtually impossible.
Once your record (or some other significant data) is approved and embedded in the database, rest assured it won’t be amended, and additionally, that record is easily verified on the blockchain via a unique hash associated with only that record.
Simplifying the Process
Now the recorded data is in the blockchain, there are several other features that can help simplify a notary service. One such feature is to implement smart contracts—an agreement in the form of computer code to perform an action once specific conditions are fulfilled. Smart contracts are automatically executed once the conditions of the agreement are met, meaning that in certain circumstances there’s no longer any need for a third party—such as a notary—to facilitate the signing of the agreement.
In this case, the smart contracts in place may act as a validation mechanism between the participating parties. Just as the notary is trusted to confirm that an identification document is valid and belongs to an individual, a smart contract can be programmed to execute only once identification has been confirmed via electronic means (i.e. Know Your Customer protocols, on-chain identity initiatives, private and public key pairings, etc.).
Some other electronic ways of verifying the identity of people include using facial recognition software to analyze legal documents containing a photo ID in comparison to an uploaded photo to the database. These techniques are still in their infancy, but even some smaller countries are already catching up to the idea of using digital media to verify identity when going through identity-dependent processes.
The notary service is overdue for a significant upgrade.
Such an important legal process has remained relatively untouched by advancements in technology, but this changing in real-time.
10XTS Document Verification
With the introduction of blockchain technology, we now have a means of notarizing documents in a fully electronic fashion.
We’ve baked document time-date stamping into the very core of our platform.
Not only is a digital document given a unique digital fingerprint with a time-date stamp, but we also track each and every action taken by any actor related to that individual document.
If someone simply looks at the document in the system, that event is logged to the ledger. Not only do we log every document event, we can mathematically prove the change of a single character should someone re-uploads the document again.
Combined with new identification processes the days of physically going to a notary to get documents notarized could be numbered.
How much time and money can we save in this new era of digital notarization?