British company uses Bitcoin to create publicly verifiable time-stamps for printed documents
In the first non-currency application of Bitcoin technology, British company Ink Factory has created a new cloud-based service for time-stamping documents on the Bitcoin Blockchain and providing a printable stamp to prove the date a document first existed.
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The Future is Binary – British printer cartridge company, Ink Factory, launchesBitstamped, a new web app for creating publicly verifiable timestamps for printed documents – with applications including time-stamping photographic evidence, helping to establish prior rights in business disputes, and deterring plagiarism of documents.
Bitstamped is a file hosting and time-stamping service, it calculates a cryptographic fingerprint or signature for a given file and that signature is included in a Bitcoin transaction to save it on the Blockchain. At any time, as long as the user has the original file, the signature can be calculated and proven to match the one that was Bitstamped.
“The business has been accepting Bitcoin as a payment method for more than six months, but UK Bitcoin customers are few and far between”, said Tim Johnson, Managing Director of Ink Factory, “But I think the most truly disruptive aspect of Bitcoin is the Blockchain – the distributed ledger that tracks all Bitcoin transactions.”
“We wondered: what if we could store information in a Bitcoin transaction – a transaction that cannot be back-dated, post-edited or disputed?” said Mr Johnson.
Ink Factory found that it is possible to generate a small Bitcoin transaction into which some data can be embedded and the transaction marked such that the tiny Bitcoin payment (needed to make the transaction valid) would be un-spendable, meaning the Bitcoin, or Satoshi included in the transaction would be released to Blockchain miners, something which actually adds value to Bitcoin.
“It turns out, we weren’t the first to think of time-stamping checksums on the Blockchain”, said Mr Johnson, “but we’ve taken the idea a step further, building on existing technologies to offer a stamp that customers can add to the footer of a printed document which when scanned will open a page that verifies when it was Bitstamped and proves the file must have existed at that time”
“Bitstamped is designed for mainstream use, and we believe it’s the first commercialised non-currency application of the Blockchain – you pay with a credit card, you don’t need to know what Bitcoin is to use the service.”