The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, increasing the adoption of electronic signing solutions. But many of these solutions are rooted in old technology. Blockchain adoption provides a next-gen path for digital documents.
We’re all tired of hearing about the pandemic, but one positive which has come out of it is the widespread adoption of digital technologies for everything from work from home to supply chains, and the way companies handle the myriad of documents they need to deal with every week.
According to a McKinsey Global Survey of Executives, companies have accelerated digitisation by three to four years during the pandemic, while the share of digitally enabled products has accelerated by seven years. The leap ahead is even greater in APAC, moving forward by ten years.
One of the technologies which has emerged in this great leap forward is blockchain, with the global blockchain market expected to hit USD15.88 billion in 2023. The adoption of blockchain has risen in a bid to reduce fraud and digital counterfeiting, pushing businesses to embrace the technology.
The question is, what does blockchain, which is an immutable ledger stored in a massive number of distributed computers across the internet, have to do with digital documents? And what are the myths surrounding digital documents in this age of digital transformation?
Documents and the blockchain
Our solution uses blockchain technology to ensure the document is tamper-proof. This gives users peace of mind and security in the knowledge documents shared are not altered without being accepted by all parties involved.
As we’ve seen, the future of documents is digital, and so the necessary technology must be in place so this transformation can happen. Older document technologies are centralised – everything is stored on a server which means it’s open to several points of failure, as well as being altered without someone realising.
Using blockchain, the final document can’t be altered, and a record will always exist stored on-chain. Blockchain also means data sovereignty requirements – needed by both the public sector, as well as heavily-regulated sectors like financial services – are respected, as the chain nodes chosen can be located on-shore. This means the document never leaves the jurisdiction where it’s supposed to be held.
But there are several myths that have arisen around digital documents – and not only those stored on the blockchain. Let’s address those myths directly.
Digital Document Myths debunked
The first myth which has risen around digital documents is that they’re only concerned with digitising signatures. This is not the case. A powerful digital document solution isn’t just about one signature and then you’re done. Instead, a truly useful digital document offering will allow multiple signatures and permit automated workflows.
It’s also important to understand not all signing solutions are the same. This myth says it doesn’t matter which solution you use, as long as the document gets done. This is far from the truth. It’s common for many business documents to go through rounds of negotiation, but when it comes to signing off on the final version, the recipient can’t compare it to earlier versions.
By storing the document in a distributed ledger (blockchain), version control is assured, and each iteration of the document can be compared to earlier versions.
The third myth is that paper documents are more secure. They’re not. Paper documents are easily compromised, copied, and altered. Digital documents stored on the blockchain are not centralised and are more secure. They’re perfect for cross-border transactions (where regulations allow), as well as for implementing restricted file access. Digital also means you’re able to implement a workflow and automation system that works for you.
Digital documents don’t require physical file storage space, and by moving to digital, it’s possible to save up to 90 percent in printing and ink costs.
Implementing a digital document system is also seen to be time-consuming – which is a myth. With paper-based systems, you’re losing time and productivity every time a document is printed, filed, scanned, and duplicated, as well as the hours needed to get the right people to sign it at the right time.
The final myth says a digital document system is an unnecessary expenditure. With digital documents, you’re saving time and money, as well as being able to comply with regulatory obligations. Businesses will also see higher productivity.
It’s also worth bearing in mind with current COVID restrictions, travel is limited, and couriers are harder to come by – and cost more. A digital document can travel anywhere, be reviewed, signed, and verified, and then come back to head office with the click of a link.
The combination of blockchain and digital documents is a powerful one. By combining these technologies, businesses can save time and money, as well as be compliant with regulations. Automated workflows lead to greater efficiencies, which saves even more money. And because the blockchain is immutable, problems with fraud and counterfeiting simply disappear.