For people who have needed to digitally sign documents online, a variety of very useful and convenient services have sprung up to allow anyone from their computer to not need to print, scan and fax paperwork. However, what Singapore-based Attores has done allows people to digitally sign, share and store documents in a whole new way – on the Ethereum blockchain.
This allows a trustless transaction between two or more parties where they can create, mutually agree on and sign a document digitally. Not only is the document signed, but it is added to the immutable Ethereum blockchain as a secure, permanent record.
One of the founders of Attores, Gaurang Torvekar manifested this idea originally in the form of a novelty prenuptial agreement between his soon-to-be wife and him. They uploaded a PDF which they mutually drew up for their prospective ideal marriage and digitally signed it using the Attores smart-contract platform which runs on top of the Ethereum blockchain. The original prenup and details can be found on the website Prenup with Love.
But while the prenuptial agreements industry might be large, albeit smaller than the divorce law market, Torvekar and his partner David Moskowitz had bigger plans for the features they would offer through the Attores platform.
In a BTCManger exclusive, Torvekar explained the impetus behind what started as a narrow focus for Attores and spread into a much broader and powerful vision for a larger market:
How did your idea for Attores evolve from a personal project into a business?
“Actually, we have been working towards building a product which would provide increased efficiencies and fraud reduction for Financial Institutions using the blockchain technology. The prenup was like a spark, which made us think deeper about our approach toward solving this problem and provide an entire suite of document management functionality and make the Digital Transactions related to the data and documents more secure and transparent in nature. This, in turn, has led us to release the standalone prosumer version of Digital Signing 2.0, which is getting a phenomenal response.”
“We have got more than 70 signups on the platform without much publicity and digital marketing in about two weeks. Until now, Attores has been used to create Smart Contracts from Prenups, Educational Certificates, MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), while also being used to sell-off the website of our CEO David Moskowitz! And we believe that this is just the beginning.”
If one creates a free user account on the site, there are two options – upload your own document for signing or to play around with the prenup template. What else do you have in store?
“Attores is working on a complete suite of features related to Digital Transaction Management. We are trying to compress the entire workflow right from Document Creation to the document storage to the Digital Signing. This suite is especially useful for Financial Institutions (FI) in areas like Trade Finance, where it can prove the origin of the documents, which would result in significant reduction in fraud and also increase in efficiencies.”
What is your target business market? Are you going to go for enterprise clients only?
“While we are providing this suite to the FIs, we also felt that the digital signing piece in itself can be an attractive and useful product for SMEs. Hence we are going ‘prosumer’ with this. The way we do the digital signing is – We take the document and create a hash for it. This creates a reference of the current state of the document. Then, the details related to every sign and the hash of the document get put into a transaction on the blockchain – this is like a global storage mechanism which proves the state of the document at any point in time. What blockchain provides is a trustless mechanism for this proof. You don’t have to trust Attores that the transaction happened- it’s recorded on the blockchain.”
There are other digital signing services online. What are the benefits of using Attores?
“The main difference between us and other Digital Signing providers is that when you are using Attores, you get all the inherent benefits of blockchain security and also the transparency associated with it. You can rest assured that this is the only version of your document and you can trace the entire history of the digital transactions of this document in a trustless manner.”
If someone wants to actually sign a contract or document using Attores right now, can they? Do they need to pay with real Ether to put it on the blockchain?
“There’s actually no need to have a testnet address yourself- we handle all the ‘blockchain’ bits for you. We are using the testnet as the service is currently free. If we used the main net, someone could ‘spam’ us with signatures. Each transaction costs a small fee on the main net, so this spam would be very bad. Since the testnet is essentially free and provides the exact same infrastructure we can use that for storing information on the transactions.”
“To the end user it’s essentially the same, but to avoid any misunderstandings with our users we felt it’s best to let them know we are using the testnet. We are also planning to move the mainnet once we start monetizing this product, which would be around in a month or two month’s time.”
In a critical time for blockchain companies and prospectors, especially post-Devcon2, the need for actual working prototypes of Dapps and blockchain applications is stronger than ever. Attores has offered a straightforward minimum viable product for consumers to play with for free and actually learn about how the blockchain could affect a very simple, yet highly important aspect of their business immediately. People can use and experiment with blockchain systems now, rather than just longer-term projects that have future applications, but with no immediate impact.