Here’s one example, among dozens identified to date, of using blockchain technology. Say you receive a document from me that’s rather important, say – a contract. You want to validate that the document you received was indeed written by me, and neither you nor me want to spend the time and money to have a trusted third party (like the guy in the picture above) to essentially notarize the document. A start-up company known as Stampery has developed a Microsoft Add-in to support this type of scenario using blockchain.
Here’s how it works: say I compose the contract in Microsoft Word. When I’m done, I click a button in Word (the Stampery add-in) which then “hashes” the document. A hash is a mathematical technique of creating a fixed block of characters (which will seem random to any viewer or software program) based on an input file (in this case, my contract). In this specific case, the “hash” is 256 seemingly random characters that represents my contract. This hash is then stored on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Now – I send the contract in Word format to you. You can read the document in Word, but you want to be certain of the document’s validity. You click the Stampery add-in button “certify” – which then applies the exact same hashing technique to the document you are reading, then compares that document to the hashed version on the Bitcoin blockchain. If the two hashes match, you get a message certifying the document I sent you.
This all may not sound too glamorous – but it is the “immutability” characteristic of the blockchain which assure document authenticity – and for a whole lot less time and money.