Signature Chain (SIGN) is a document certification service built on the Waves blockchain, enabling inventors, artists, writers, filmmakers, songwriters and music composers to put a «lock» on their material.
«The idea came to me when I was working on a meta-registry of carbon units for the World Bank, and they mentioned the option of using blockchain certification, ” says Christophe Verdot, Signature Chain’s developer. «At the time, I didn’t know much about it, but it prompted me to launch a project focused on blockchain document certification.»
Blockchain certification features are especially important for people who create original content and want to protect it.
«I’ve had people take my work, reprint it and sell it as their own, ” says one of the service’s first clients, digital artist Joey Gates. «I have many friends who have also experienced this. In those cases it’s my word against theirs and artists often lack a way to prove they are the original creators.»
«The project is centered around the SIGN blockchain wallet, which has a document certification feature, ” explains Verdot. «The feature facilitates file and email certification. In the latter case, a user can send an email to a given address, also containing attachments, and a hash of that email will be written to the blockchain.»
Users can submit intellectual property as a file of any type, documenting and certifying them with a transaction on the Waves blockchain. Aside from certifying them with a date and time, a unique hash is produced based on the content, so that any changes made — even the slightest change in the original, certified file or document — will produce a different hash.
Most recently, multi-party agreement functionality has been added, facilitating signing of any type of contract by up to six counterparties, with subsequent certification on the Waves blockchain.
With this addition, all of the service’s three core features are now available: file certification, email certification and multi-party agreements.
According to Verdot, many of the current Signature Chain users are artists.
«By giving my art a time stamp on a blockchain it can help prove the art is mine, ” comments Gates. «Anyone else who attempts to call it their own will do so after it’s been certified, and I can prove to them or a judge the work is mine because of that time stamp on a public blockchain.»
To cater more to the needs of the artistic community, Verdot plans to launch a side project, SIGN Art, specifically intended for artists who want to certify their digital art.
«Artists will be able to upload their work, but only hashes of their images will go to the blockchain, ” he says. «The actual files will be exclusively in their possession.»
In the longer run, a service specifically targeting book authors could also be added, Verdot says.
UX and adoption challenges
While Verdot hasn’t encountered any technical issues so far, the issue of wider adoption of his service still needs to be addressed. «I’ve been able to do what I wanted, since the [Waves] blockchain is well-suited to this project, ” he explains. «But the main problem, as for any blockchain application, is adoption.»
Running Signature Chain, Verdot discovered that the service can be too complicated for users with no knowledge of blockchain. «What seems to be straightforward enough for me is not so for a regular user who doesn’t know about blockchain, ” he comments. That gave the developer an idea to create separate, very simple apps for each of the service’s main features — file certification, email certification and multi-party agreements — further down the line.
As another step towards engaging wider audiences, Signature Chain has removed the barrier for non-crypto users by integrating functionality for buying certification credits for fiat into the web app.
Meanwhile, another step forward will be adding an API. «I have potential clients who would prefer to use an API rather than go to the web app and certify files one by one — such as realtors and educational institutions, ” Verdot concludes.