Glossary

Notarization on Blockchain

Notarization on blockchain simply uses the intrinsic nature and advantages of blockchain technology to let anyone create a timestamped artifact.

What Is Notarization on Blockchain?

Practically speaking, a blockchain is nothing more than a global database that has no central authority for upkeep and operation; it is decentralized. Because of this, blockchain technology excels at securely recording tamper-proof records, which are anchored in time. 
A blockchain usually grows block by block and utilizes strong cryptographic mechanisms to prevent any modification of past blocks. In other words, it’s practically impossible to alter information that’s already been recorded. This means that if you can locate the block where a certain dataset has been recorded, then you can always, and without any doubt, prove when and (just as important) by whom this data was recorded. This is especially advantageous when using a public blockchain because everyone can look up this record, and no third party is needed to confirm its veracity. It is the ultimate technological transparency because the blockchain itself acts as the third party. 
There are many use cases where it is important to be able to prove something in time. Copyright, for example, requires this to prove who created,  talked about, or thought of something first. This could be a song, a text, a video, a new invention, or anything that could potentially be of value and worth copyrighting. Another case is supply chain transparency, being able to track shipments and check the process of loading and unloading ships or trucks, and creating an electronic bill of lading. 
Along with timestamping, another area where blockchain provides a naturally superior solution is proving authorship of the timestamped record. A blockchain only stores public data. It only uses private data if someone puts it there on purpose. There is a cryptographically secure way to let the author prove that they are the author at any point in time without having to reveal any secure information. In all known cases of Notarization, either in real life or on a blockchain, it is important to know the author or beneficiary. Blockchain solves this problem simply by leveraging the nature of the technology.

Finally, after proving the "when" and "who," we need to prove the "what." This refers to the thing being verified, e.g. a song or a contract, etc. While blockchain is not good at storing large quantities of data, this is not even necessary. The whole file does not need to be stored on the blockchain; rather by mathematical means, it is possible to create a unique fingerprint for this data which is virtually impossible to fake. This fingerprint is very small, can be put on blockchain at a reasonable cost, and simply anchors the “who,” “what,” and “when” in a place that can be easily verified. 

At its core, Notarization on blockchain simply uses the intrinsic nature and advantages of blockchain technology to let anyone create a timestamped artifact. The authorship and identity of this artifact can easily and securely be identified at any point. Whether this task is performed by a real Notary or the actual beneficiary does not matter, the data is still anchored in time and to an author. 

Author:

Johannes Schweifer is the CEO of CoreLedger, a company empowering businesses of all sizes to access the benefits of blockchain technology. Schweifer co-founded several blockchain start-ups, including Bitcoin Suisse. He’s a passionate problem solver, holding a master’s degree in Chemistry and a PhD in distributed computing and quantum chemistry.