ProofOfExistence offers non-currency innovation example for Bitcoin

I had wanted to talk a bit about this service at CoinFest Winnipeg 2014, but didn’t really find a good opportunity.  Instead, I decided I’d write a post about the service, and discuss some thoughts I have for where this type of technology could be heading and the opportunities it presents.

ProofOfExistence is a service that allows you to prove that you possessed a specific digital file at a specific time.  It does not matter what the contents of the file is.  It could be a contract document, an MP3 of a song you wrote, a short story you plan on publishing, or any other digital file imaginable.  What PoE does is allow you to encrypt the file and publish the hash as a transaction on the Bitcoin network. This allows the continuum of the Blockchain to forever store your “proof” that you held that document at that specific time.

If, at some point down the road, you needed to prove original ownership of the document, anyone with the document (so long as it remained unchanged) could encrypt it using the same standard, and discover that hash sitting in the blockchain on a specific day and time.

Users of the service are able to publish the proof of existence of the document without having to share the source document.  This has significant implications for copyright and trademark registration, personal property registration, and document notarization, all without the need for a centralized authority.

This is an exciting technology because it serves a very real purpose, and demonstrates the kind of non-currency innovation possible with the Bitcoin blockchain.  There is potential for services like this to completely replace so many government-run registration services such as the Patent Office, Property Registry and Land Titles Office, and really, any government maintained document registration service.  Perhaps that’s a lofty goal politically, but at least technologically, we are on the cusp of having decentralized, distributed solutions for expensive, bureaucratic processes and I find that exciting.

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