Hitachi Ltd says it has developed the Hitachi Electronic Signature Service, which implements secure electronic contracts based on blockchain (distributed ledger) technology. The service digitizes the signatures and seals of paper documents such as contracts exchanged between companies, and promotes to eliminate personal seals.
The use of blockchain guarantees the authenticity of signature information and improves resistance to data tampering. Hitachi said the service provides stable system operation by using the Hitachi Blockchain Service for Hyperledger Fabric for its blockchain platform. It is suitable for transactions between multiple corporations and has also been used for traceability systems in inter-company supply chains.
Hitachi started to operate the service at the procurement department at its head office this month. The company said it will launch sales to corporations in Japan after July. In the future, it plans to roll out to global corporations with a focus on North America.
At present, the introduction of remote working, including working from home, is expanding rapidly as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19 infections. Many corporations are in the process of setting up the infrastructure environment for flexible working regardless of location. However, at Japanese corporations, in particular, the procedures for affixing signatures and personal seals to paperwork, including contracts exchanged between corporations, have proven to be a major obstacle to remote working. Additionally, binding and mailing original documents, buying and affixing revenue stamps, and storing documents require a lot of time and money. In this situation, there is rising interest in electronic signatures that use digital technologies as an alternative method, but there are issues around security to prevent data tampering by third parties.
When users sign a document in the Hitachi service, hash information and time stamp information for the digital data are recorded in the blockchain. Data stored in the blockchain is highly resistant to tampering, and compared to the use of conventional relational databases, the authenticity of the data is improved.
Generally, when corporations use electronic signatures and contracts, it may be necessary to use several different systems dependent on the services used by the business partner. This service offers a function for centralized document management that imports signed documents by connecting to other electronic contract services via an API that facilitates information exchange between different companies. The connected services will be expanded in the future.
Source: Hitachi© Japan Today