2 min read

Sign on the dotted line (digitally)

As a kid, I would draw my signature all the time. It took various forms over the years as I found new ways to create characters, play with proportions, and adjust angles. Despite all that preparation, I rarely need to use my signature now because I sign most things digitally via DocuSign or a similar service.

Signatures aren't exactly foolproof. Your physical signature can be forged. Your digital signature can be faked. In a legal dispute, you really need supporting documentation/proof to show that someone actually signed a document. Having the signature notarized by an impartial third party is pretty common for important contracts.

But what's the point?

Signatures, document signing services, notaries, escrow agents, etc. are all trying to solve basically the same problem: trust.

You don't need any of these things in a world where everyone's honest. Handshake deals would be plenty if you knew the other person would follow through. The point of signing a contract is to document the agreement in case there's a dispute that needs to be resolved in court. You wouldn't even need civil courts if everyone was honest.

I'm not going to tell you blockchain fixes this with smart contracts. I don't believe entirely digital solutions can solve inherently human problems. The benefit of blockchain is more efficiently establishing and enforcing agreements.

Even on blockchain, you need a signature. The difference is that your signature isn't drawn and it isn't pasted onto a PDF by some online service. You sign a document by encrypting it with your private key (basically a password that you don't get to choose). This works because you're the only person who knows your private key. The only way to decrypt the document is with your public key (basically the account address you share publicly).

When you use a public/private key pair, you don't need a notary or any other outside party to prove you signed something. As long as the public key is what you use to identify yourself publicly, and you're truly the only person who knows the private key, then you have the basis for digital trust.


P.S. It's important to understand this as we approach Koinos mainnet. You need to have your private key for the account where you keep your KOIN, but you don't share it with anyone to claim your tokens. You simply sign a message that says "give me all my KOIN" and it's yours.

P.P.S. Have questions about Koinos? Unsure if your KOIN will be included in the snapshot? Trying to the token claiming process so you can participate in proof of burn? You're not alone. Join Kui and me on YouTube live over the next couple weeks. Make sure you're subscribed to Kui's channel and The Koin Press with notifications turned on so you don't miss it. Bring your questions!