Blockchain and the Future of Notaries
In this interview, Gonzalo Blousson, CEO at Signatura, explains how blockchain can disrupt the work of notaries…
Signatura is a company that combines electronic signature technology with blockchain to offer digital certainty solutions, guaranteeing the authorship and the correct date of both documents and procedures.
How does blockchain contribute to digital certainty?
Digital signature is not a new technology. But adding a blockchain layer brings two novelties.
First, it offers complete certainty of the moment a document was signed. Second, it guarantees that the document cannot be altered in any way.
The combination between date certainty and document inalterability, in addition to the guarantee of authorship given by a digital signature, makes it look like a small “digital notary”.
Although it doesn’t generate the same legal consequences or obligations, it’s a near perfect solution for the custody of digital evidence.
What are the main use cases for this solution?
First, signing contracts. Signatura offers a service that certifies that a contract was signed at a certain time and that it was not modified. This is complemented by an identity validation service with biometric data and information coming from public agencies.
Secondly, this solution can provide a guarantee of custody of digital information in cases where this is required by the regulatory framework.
Some companies need a date certification on blockchain to meet compliance requirements. The regulator requires them to respond to customer claims within a specific time frame. Blockchain can certify that the case was handled within the required period.
Third, some universities use this service for issuing digital diplomas. The blockchain holds a record of who received the diploma, when and with what qualifications. This is useful to prevent counterfeiting.
Given these new tools, how will the job of the notary going to change in the years to come?
I think the transformation will be gradual.
At first, notaries themselves will adopt these tools to digitize their work and be more efficient. In the long run, however, many certification activities will no longer require a notary.
Notaries will still perform a role that cannot be easily replaced by technology such as making sure that the person who signs is not being coerced.
The notary profession will be oriented from certification to activities of greater value added, such as advisory services. These high-value activities will be the shelter of notaries against the advance of blockchain and electronic signatures.
Many notaries still have an anti-technology attitude. But they should think how to use the new tools to add value to their clients. Those who fail to do it risk becoming obsolete.
From your experience as a pioneer in legaltech, what piece of advice would you give people who want to work in legal innovation?
I think the most difficult thing is coping with the fear of change of the professionals of the legal industry, which are traditionally conservative.
But it is also true that this has changed in recent years.
In the early days of Signatura, any change initiative was resisted. Even something as simple as the digitization of court records.
Now, a new generation is reaching decision-making positions in corporations and law firms. This generation is more open to change and to trying new things.
Today’s legaltech entrepreneurs face a simpler situation than we did in our early days.
Another lesson is not to be afraid of the regulatory framework. Innovation always starts from the technology side. Then, regulations adjust to the new reality.
If you are developing a revolutionary project, do not stop because of legal grey areas. Go ahead and promote changes in the regulatory framework. Human evolution has always happened that way.