Freely transferrable digital original documents
A large share of communication and exchange of data is already digitalised, especially in the financial industry but there is a fundamental lack of a seamless, cost-effective, 100% reliable, secure, traceable, digital substitute for paper.
A major obstacle for achieving a completely digital world has been the requirements to be able to manage and present documents in their original form.
If we want to see continued rapid digitalisation globally, document processing of digital original documents must be open for all and be able to cater for both the handling of physical and digital documents in parallel, paper and digital documents must be able to co-exist.
To solve this challenge Enigio created trace:original.
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trace:original is a technical solution through which a digital original document can be created and possession of the original freely transferred between parties using distributed ledger technology solely for the purposes of validation, verification and recording possession.
trace:original is a solution to achieve all properties needed to create, manage and invalidate a digital document such as a digital negotiable instruments or document of title or any other document that needs to be represented as an original.
A trace:original document has the same functionality as its paper equivalent but enables faster, safer and significantly more cost-effective management of these documents and does this in a digital environment.
The solution is unique compared to other document management solutions, platform and distributed ledger solutions as it introduces a new possessable digital asset and digital information class; the trace:original document.
The trace:original document is designed to be able to hold all necessary data to execute a transaction and at the same time not being tied to any specific transaction infrastructure. More importantly it can also be easily and freely managed by anyone with access to a computer and the internet, there are no other requirements or strings attached.
The trace:original solution consists of three components:
The trace:original document, a free electronic transferable record/file with a defined beginning, end and content.
A private digital key, with which the holder of the original document can legitimise possession.
A public distributed ledger, being a cryptographic notary service for all trace:original documents.
The trace:original document
The trace:original document is content agnostic and can carry any type of content including electronic signatures or seals. The trace:original document is stored and managed by the holder. All business data is only written in the document and is not published on the public distributed ledger or elsewhere.
The trace:original document can be created as a PDF or be written in a structured plain text character format (YAML using the UTF-8 format standard).
By using plain text, the document can be read in the simplest text editor but also be read by a computer. JSON schemas can be used to enforce content adherence and enabling standardisation of content and Straight Through Processing (STP).
By using the PDF standard, the document can be read and manged as a normal PDF document but with the added trace:original features.
To ensure that no content that has been written in the document has been altered or manipulated the content is secured using mathematical one-way algorithms, “Hash-functions”. By publishing hashes of the document as well as other cryptographic references in a publicly available distributed ledger, the existence and the properties of the document are evidenced with mathematical certainty.
The cryptographic key pair
To enable control and possession of the trace:original document the document is linked to an asymmetric keypair. The keypair consists of a public and a private key. The public key of the current private key in possession of a trace:original is inserted in the document and also published together with the unique identification of the document (the trace:original id), sometimes called a Non Fungible Token (NFT), on the distributed ledger.
The private key should always be kept secret by the holder. By presenting a signature done with a private key, the one in possession of the private key can prove the possession of it without sharing or presenting the private key itself to anyone. By evaluating a signature by the private key anyone can mathematically prove that the one producing the signature must be in possession of the private key corresponding to the public key of an asymmetric keypair. To be able to prove possession of an original and be able to add content, transfer or invalidate the document one needs the correct private key as well as the latest version of the document. The one in possession can add content but never change what has already been written to the document.
The Public Distributed Ledger
The publicly distributed ledger is a mathematically secured ledger containing evidence of all trace:original documents and the audit trail of all previous versions. The ledger is shared publicly and kept by each node participant in the network to create a secure and shared verifiable truth. The ledger cannot be corrupted or manipulated without this being detected as mathematics will break. Therefore, it can work as a notary being able to verify and securely assess the authenticity, originality and possession of a document as well as the history and the audit trail contained in the document without revealing anything about the content of the document. All the public distributed ledger do is to provide “proof of the truth” with regards to all trace:original documents, it is not storing any business or personal data.
Who could benefit from using trace:original?
Any bank or corporate managing large volumes of paper documents could benefit from using trace:original.
The trace:original concept of digital original documents is generic and therefore there are several potential use cases - without having to make any changes to existing core processes and workflows.
The main benefits and main focus for trace:original are freely transferable digital negotiable instruments and documents of title, such as:
Promissory notes, Bills of Exchange, Bill of Lading, Warehouse Receipts, Warrants, Bank Guarantees and Stand-By Letters of Credits.
In addition trace:original has advantages in other use cases such as: Certificates, Accreditations, Diplomas, CMRs, Purchase Orders, Airway Bills etc.
For the business as a whole
The solution eliminates time consuming and costly processes associated with the creation, scanning, storage, retrieval, and physical delivery of physical documents. All trace:original documents are digital, and all text is 100% readable by machine and man. They can be fully processed by AI platforms and integration with current ERP software allows efficient issuance and delivery of critical documents to receivers within minutes.
The trace:original document provides cyber security, avoiding fraud and forgery by using the blockchain-based notary function for tracking the digital assets and always ensuring its integrity and reliability. The digital documents are immutable, fully fraud safe and contain their own full audit trail.
COVID exposed the burdens and risks of the physical delivery and checking of paper documents for organisations to serve clients and execute transactions.
There is an urgent need to stop having dual processes: one paper based and one digital in the form of scanned documents. Dual sets of data create the risk of missing or not managing the right data, and physical records can easily be misplaced or lost.
The solution does not require a complex full technological transformation. It is as easy as changing a printer interface. Since most documents are already created digitally in a workflow, the same documents can also be used for creating a trace:original. The digital document is easily created and managed digitally throughout its lifetime. There is no need for the receiver to use any specific software or sign up to any closed platform. The solution allows an organisation to use its current systems and processes. There is no need to subscribe to a specific service or a closed network. It is fully compatible with all platforms.
Designed to be legally valid for negotiable instruments and documents of title in countries where the legislation is technology neutral. Fulfils all requirement in the United Nation’s Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR). The MLETR provides a workable framework to facilitate the use of digital original documents. It focuses on the concept of functional equivalence that signifies the ability of a technical solution to demonstrate the key properties of a physically signed paper document. In countries where common law allows for possession of an intangible, a trace:original is enforceable under the relative Bills of Exchange act e.g., Singapore, Bahrein, and Abu Dhabi Global Market.
Technology stack is easy to understand, implement and use and still secure, innovative and modern. DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology / Blockchain), Ricardian Contract, NFT (Non-Fungible Token), Electronic Signature, Yubikey, Micro-services, Docker Containers, Cloud compatible, Specific secure AWS native implementation available for Fullnode service, JSON schemas, RESTful API, Public Key Cryptography, YAML and PDF.
To create trace:original documents users need to subscribe to or operate an own trace:original Fullnode. The Fullnode have a basic stand-alone user interface to create and manage trace:original documents. But high volume users would normally integrate their front and back-office systems to the Fullnode RESTful API. The Fullnode will connect to document stores and keystores and will maintain a synchronised and fully updated copy of the full trace:original ledger. Other high-volume receivers of documents who does not have the need to create their own documents could also maintain and manage received documents by using an own Stakeholder node with same features as a Fullnode except the possibility to create new trace:original documents. A trace:original node (either Fullnode or Stakeholder node) can be installed on premise, as a cloud service or as a fully operated and maintained SaaS solution (Software as a Service).