You may have used a Notary Public to notarize a contract, or other legal documents.
What is a Notary Public? The National Notary Association define Notary Public defines a Notary Public as “an official of integrity appointed by state government —typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.” (NNA)
When you break down the workflow of the notarization process, it works like this:
A lender needs to have Kris notarize a loan doc. Kris will then meet in person with Tiffany, a Notary Public. Next, Tiffany looks over, and verifies the document, and confirms that the document meets notary standards and has been properly notarized. Tiffany then screens Kris, the signer, and verify the facts in an in-person appearance. In the next step, the Tiffany records a journal entry, which requires a thumb print and signatures in the journal.
As the last step in the workflow, the Tiffany completes, signs, and seals the documents. She then completes the in-person duties now that the payment and signatures are completed. (Callaway, Kevin)
As described by Bisade Asolo, in MyCryptopedia —blockchain has a use case application for notarization of legal documents.
Blockchain for Notary Public
Because blockchain uses distributed ledger technology—everyone can have a copy of the blockchain. It’s not subject to control by a single entity, or centralized database managed system. The result is that blockchain is incredibly secure which developers can use to secure notarized documents and contracts.
Given the workflow as described above, it is evident that notarization is document intensive, and can be a cumbersome process as notaries must meet with clients where they pour over from 1 or 3 pages, or when dealing with real estate, can involve hundreds of pages.
Potential problems may arise when a significant portion of records are maintained in hard copy. A concern with paper document is the security of the documents which can be tampered or subject to other fraudulent activity. The purpose of notarization is to prevent fraud and provide positive proof of the signatories and the authenticity of documents.
— Shermin Voshmgir (@sherminvo) October 6, 2017
The use of blockchain technology could bring significant value-add to the notarization process. Blockchain can make a notarized document secure, immutable and transparent—thus making the document tamper-resistant. Moreover, blockchain can provide proof of existence.
The blockchain could be used to prove the existence of a document from the time of its creation, and any modification to the document can be identified. One of the applications of blockchain is the ability to hash a document and all the chains on the blockchain. In this way, documents can be verified that it hasn’t been altered. Any change can be identified when they ascertain a different hash.
As notarization deals with contract and agreements, one goal of notary use case is to develop a solution that will allow owners of documents to create contracts between parties and have the latest data of the most recently signed document on the blockchain.
Smart contracts technology can be developed that contains required details of a contract. Thus—a smart contract can be set up to sign documents, store all versions and timestamps of a document, store all signers, and related data. It can also store the details about pending, rejected, approved and old versions of contract documents. (Helen)
My brief summary of the Ultimate Bullcase for Smart Contracts on "Off the chain" Podcast with @APompliano and the CEO of @chainlink – @SergeyNazarov. Fascinating talk! Truly one of the most important companies in Crypto! pic.twitter.com/Lqc85cetX6
— Astatine (@Astattine) January 18, 2019
Blockchain use cases continue to be expanded well beyond cryptocurrency and fintech. As more and more people engage in contracts for real estate, business agreements, personal documentation, it is clear that a system that will ensure immutability and security for notarized documents must be maintained.
This is perhaps primetime for Notary Public blockchain technology and smart contracts use case applications.
Callaway, Kevin , “Can Smart Contracts and Blockchain tech improve Notary Public ledgers?”, Publixh0x, June 2019
Helen, “Blockchain-based notarization platform on Ethereum”, Research, https://ethresear.ch/t/blockchain-based-notarization-platform-on-ethereum/5326, July 2019
NNA, “What Is a Notary Public?”, https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/about-notaries, July 2019.
Tam, KC, “Notarization in Blockchain”, Medium, August 2018.