Roger Ver Should Use Blokusign

Had it existed) it may have saved him from hauling a Chinese exchange to court in Hong Kong in 2016 over an alleged forged contract.

It’s way too easy to forge a contract today. That’s why blockchain-powered e-signatures is a necessity.

The Story

Back in 2014, Ver purportedly inked a five year deal with OKCoin, where he allowed the company to advertise their trading platform on Bitcoin.com. In return, OKCoin was to redesign Bitcoin.com and drive new traffic to the website utilizing SEO and pay Ver $10,000 a month for 60 months, until their contract expired.

Unfortunately for Ver, after only a couple months, OKCoin allegedly breached their contract when they stopped paying.

In the ensuing argument, an issue arise of the authentic version of the document when the two parties produced two different versions of signed contracts. According to Ver, Xu created a forged contract that included a clause allowing the local company to cancel the contract with six months’ notice and copied and pasted Ver’s digital signature into the document. Ver requested that the court declare the contested version of the contract a forgery.

Ver had simultaneously filed separate suits against the local entity OKEX Fintech Company, the OKCoin exchange, and the exchange’s Chief Executive, Star Xu, surrounding the disputed contract.

Last year, the court of Hong Kong handed down an interlocutory judgment for the OKEX Fintech Company’s breach and awarded $570,000 to Ver — moreso as a consequence of the company’s lack of response rather than a review of the merits of the case.

The other cases now continue. Last reported, Ver was seeking to push for liquidation of the exchange.

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A Brief Legal Analysis of Authentication of Documents using Blockchain Technology

A New Way To Digitally Sign And Authenticate Documents

Blokusign is a new application for enabling the legal validity and management of agreements. It offers a major advantage over existing e-signature solutions by allowing users to independently verify the existence, timing, and authenticity of their signed documents.

Other e-signature solutions issue only a transaction receipt that lists signers’ IP addresses, email addresses, date, and time. These receipts are easily altered and have no security mechanisms. Furthermore, these receipts are centrally stored and managed, which can lead to doubts about their authenticity. Records that are under the control of an authority can be tampered.

How It Works

Blokusign connects the document to an address and a hash of the signed document on a public blockchain. A cryptographic hash is the ‘fingerprint’ of a file — changing the file, to any degree, will completely alter the hash. Because of this property, hashes can be used to demonstrate the authenticity of a document, even when it has been copied and stored under someone else’s control. Similarly, linking the document to an address, and supporting the transaction with cryptographic assurances of validity, helps ensure that the person creating the record has the authority to do so. Finally, by encoding a hash of the document, users can easily prove that their locally-held copies are correct, while at the same time creating an incontrovertible timestamp of the agreement.

To be clear, Blokusign does not store the signed document itself on a blockchain, as that would be an inefficient and costly use of precious block space. Instead, Blokusign’s solution is simple and elegant: a hash of the signed document is stored on a public blockchain and provided as part of the transaction receipt. Users are free to use their own document storage methods, whether local storage, cloud services like AWS or Dropbox, or Blokusign’s storage service (to be provided in a future release).

If the user ever needs to check whether a document is authentic, the user merely needs to compare the hash ‘fingerprint’ of the document to the one stored on the blockchain. If the two values are identical, then the document has not been altered. Users can also do the reverse: because each hash uniquely identifies documents, hashes can also be used to locate particular files with ease.

Blokusign’s solution is far simpler and more reliable than existing methods, which may either check metadata (which may be altered) or rely on centralized e-signature solutions to verify it from their own storage.

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Your Tokens Will Be Worthless If Blockchain Doesn’t Resolve Its Dispute Resolution Issues

You’re super bullish about the future of blockchain. You’ve bought in to the crypto and blockchain industry. You’re all in, HODL HODL HODL. Good for you. But you’re about to lose it all unless a key issue is resolved soon—some call it ‘dispute resolution’, others ‘arbitration’, and still others ‘governance.’ But make no mistake—this is not merely a technology issue. It’s a human issue.

Let’s take EOS for example. EOS is a blockchain marketed to small businesses. Token prices will increase based on supply/demand and use. If EOS (and every other blockchain) remains the domain of tech dudes, the total number of holders and users will remain low.

EOS needs to crack the ‘small business adoption’ puzzle for its token prices to skyrocket. But small businesses aren’t going to transact unless they have transactional confidence and certainty. In fact, no one (aside from early adopter tech experimenters) transacts unless they have transactional confidence and certainty.

This all comes back to designing fair, efficient, scalable, and transparent dispute resolution architecture.

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The Importance of Transparency in Token Economies

One of the more tantalizing aspirations being promoting around blockchain technology is the promise of more efficient economies and systems of economic governance through the removal of human actors who cheat, lie, or game the system. Because the technology enables decentralization and its data can be immutable, the thinking goes, no single actor or group of actors should be able the stack the deck in their favor. Smart contracts can govern agreements between parties, automatically executing or declining to execute based on clear, quantifiable parameters that are visible to everyone. Such an advance could have the potential to usher in a whole new era for global economies.

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What Crypto Can Learn from Public Companies

It may seem counter intuitive to say that there is a lot the crypto space can learn from traditional public equity markets. After all, the legacy financial system – with its opacity, its tendency toward oligarchy and monopoly, and its clear inefficiencies – is one of the main spheres crypto entrepreneurs are attempting to disrupt. But the fact that blockchain technology has the capacity to effect transformative change does not mean it has nothing to learn from its antecedents.

The features of the modern joint stock company were developed over many decades of trial and error through very painful mistakes. The crypto and blockchain space can do well to learn from these lessons and selectively adopt features that make sense in order to avoid making the same mistakes. Many of the features were developed to balance the competing interests of operators and investors, i.e., giving operators enough freedom to take risks and create a profitable business while at the same time giving investors/shareholders some control and oversight.

Shareholder voting and the establishment of a board of directors are also valuable features. Public companies are, in many ways, quite decentralized, although this is not coded into their DNA as it is with blockchain enterprises.

Governance power is actually distributed between the operators and shareholders. Shareholders convene on a regular basis to vote on essential matters related to the business, including whether to pay out dividends and whom to appoint to positions of top leadership. This leadership – usually comprising a board of directors that elects a chairman – is tasked with installing officers to run the business’s day-to-day operations on behalf of the larger pool of stakeholders. Leadership is ultimately responsible to the shareholders, who can remove directors.

Throughout the entire organization, the rules and processes governing the running of the business are transparent and clear to all participants. This organizational structure makes a lot of sense and provides some protection to investor stakeholders. This feature (or at least something similar to it) has been and could be implemented in token platforms to provide investors with some protection and control.  

Beyond governance, the operation of many of these companies is also surprisingly decentralized. Consider the fast food giant McDonald’s, which has a market cap of over $120 billion. Its logo, the golden arches, is recognized around the world and Chicken McNuggets and Big Macs are familiar from San Diego to Shanghai. But McDonald’s owns and operates fewer than 20% of the restaurants that bear its trademarks. Instead, the vast majority are operated as franchises. Under this model, the corporation establishes certain guidelines for the overall business – such as, for example, the recipe for french fries and the layout of stores. But the stores themselves are owned and operated by individual entrepreneurs who are better suited at managing the day to day operations and understand the unique echospace of their locations.. This decentralized model allows McDonalds to focus on big picture strategy while off loading the day to day operations to the franchisees, ultimately creating a much more successful and adaptable brand. Indeed, not all McDonalds are the same around the world.  Each market has its own unique needs and considerations. Its economic example can be instructive when designing token economies and establishing an efficient and productive split of responsibility and control based on each participant’s strengths and weaknesses.

Clearly, blockchain offers many advantages over traditional technologies and businesses. But that should not blind us to the hows and whys of the historical evolution of enterprise governance. Successes on the part of public companies can be written into code and used to make business much more efficient, if we do it right.  It is even more important that these features be considered early on in the crypto space because they need to be programmed into the token or smart contract from the beginning.

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Sagewise Seeks Feedback For Arbitration Tool to Ease EOS Controversy

The present controversies swirling around EOS and its recent freezing of a number of accounts — and the opaque way in which those decisions were made — present a golden learning opportunity for the crypto community. As the toolkit for smart contract dispute resolution, Sagewise is uniquely positioned to contribute to solutions. To that end, today we are releasing a tool to help verify frozen accounts and seek feedback from the EOS community.

First, we want to provide some background on the current situation and where Sagewise fits in. Shortly after the launch of the EOS blockchain in June, ECAF (its arbitration arm) began requesting freezes on certain accounts because of suspicious activity and evidence of theft. In taking this action, the body did not clearly communicate the procedures it had followed in making its decision. In one instance, it issued a freeze order and stated that it would later release the logic and reasoning behind the freeze order.

It is this apparent lack of transparency, rather than the actual freezing of the accounts, that has generated most of the backlash. In the eyes of many in the community, it runs counter to the ethos of decentralization that underpins blockchain.

There are also 19,587 wallets — representing 3.3 million EOS tokens — who lost these assets when the token migrated from Ethereum to the EOS blockchain. These are almost entirely people who bought the coin on secondary markets in the U.S., China, and other jurisdictions where EOS did not directly offer it. Because they purchased through secondary markets such as Binance, these holders did not receive instructions for participating in the token swap, and now that the swap has occurred, the smart contract is frozen and the tokens are effectively lost.

Sagewise offers a tool to the EOS community that solves this lost-during-the-swap problem as well as a solution for those who used a compromised tool to generate their EOS private and public keys. The tool provides transparency regarding any actions taken from within frozen accounts. Essentially, it allows someone to show evidence that they own an Ethereum address and to provide an EOS address to which they would like those tokens delivered. It also gathers and reports all data regarding both EOS and ETH contract balances and relevant actions. Ownership of an Ethereum address can be independently verified by the holder’s signing keys. This verification can be confirmed by any independent third party, adding to its reliability. Additionally, Sagewise will provide users with an easy to use guide to aid in registering a new EOS address association when needed.

We seek feedback from the EOS community on this tool. Try the EOS Verify tool here. You can view the code here, here, and here, as well as a video demo here.

While Sagewise is providing this tool, and it will be up to the community — which now fully controls the EOS blockchain — to determine how to use it. The community may decide that those who lost tokens did so as a result of dishonesty or negligence, and decide not to attempt to restore their lost assets. Or it may decide to give them a chance to be made whole in accordance with a set of guidelines. Whatever the outcome Sagewise is committed to providing solutions to help the community.

Fastcase Honors Amy Wan as “Fastcase 50” Honoree

Fastcase Honors Amy Wan as “Fastcase 50” Honoree

The Award Honors 50 Innovators, Visionaries, and Leaders in Law

Legal publisher Fastcase today announced Sagewise CEO Amy Wan as a “Fastcase 50” honoree. Selected from online nominations, the award recognizes the year’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law. Many of the 2018 honorees are pioneers in the areas of access to justice, artificial intelligence, and visualization tools for legal data.

View the 2018 winners at www.fastcase.com/fastcase50/2018

Since the inaugural awards in 2011, the Fastcase 50 has illuminated entrepreneurs and visionaries who are catapulting law and legal technology into a new era. The Fastcase 50 class of 2018 represents a diverse group of lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, law librarians, bar association executives, and innovators from all walks of life.

“The Fastcase 50 Award season is exciting for us each year, as we get to honor a collection of smart, driven innovators with a passion to improve our profession,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “It’s fun for our team each year to draw inspiration from our heroes, many of whom are doing terrific, unsung work at the frontiers of law.”

Some Additional Details About Hedera Hashgraph

We’ve received a great deal of feedback since we announced that Sagewise would work with Hedera Hashgraph. In response, we want to go into a little more detail here about the specifics of the collaboration and what it does and does not mean for Sagewise’s own roadmap. First of all, we want to reiterate how excited we are to be working with the Hedera Hashgraph team. They’re building an exciting platform and we look forward to being part of their exciting growth in the future.

We also want to address some questions and concerns that have been raised by the community. Most importantly, we want to emphasize that working with Hedera Hashgraph does not mean we are leaving Ethereum. We recognize both the technological advantages and the broad reach of the Ethereum blockchain – it’s one of the reasons we decided to build our platform on it in the first place. On the contrary, Hedera Hashgraph, for a number of reasons that we will outline, is completely compatible with our work on Ethereum. At the same time, it offers additional benefits that we believe will materially advance our efforts to build the industry’s leading smart contract dispute resolution system.

The first benefit, as already touched on, is compatibility. The Sagewise platform can easily be ported to Hedera Hashgraph because it will support Solidity smart contracts with no changes required. This compatibility makes working with Hedera Hashgraph a true win-win, since we are able to leverage the specific benefits it offers without needing to sacrifice the obvious advantages and scale of Ethereum. Our developers are able to use the same Solidity code they use to build on that blockchain to build functionality utilizing Hashgraph. In short, we get the best of both worlds.

Hedera Hashgraph also offers tangible benefits to Sagewise that we expect will make a real difference in the quality, speed, and affordability of our service. Importantly, it promises to be faster and cheaper than Ethereum. This is something we cannot ignore at this stage of our growth; at current gas prices, we would not be able to scale as quickly or as comprehensively as we want by building on Ethereum alone. And the Hedera Hashgraph APIs will have unique, innovative features that present significant benefits to Sagewise. Among these is a best-of-its kind file system with cutting-edge features like provable deletion. We intend to use this to augment Sagewise’s system on Hedera Hashgraph’s stack.

The final thing to remember is that Sagewise has always had a goal of being platform-agnostic. Since we’re a middleware layer providing infrastructure for smart contract suppliers, we need to make sure we’re wherever our customers are. Using Hedera Hashgraph moves us toward that goal. It has emerged as a major player with enterprises, which is where we see much of our growth in the future. Hedera Hashgraph’s compatibility with Ethereum, its suite of exciting, cutting edge features, and its presence among our potential partners make the platform a clear win. We’re excited to build together.

EOS Shows Transparency is Essential in Resolving Smart Contract Disputes

Much has been made online over EOS’s handling of its first arbitration case earlier this week. For those who don’t know, a group of the chain’s block producers made a decision to freeze specific accounts in response to an apparent theft. An arbiter has ruled to freeze the tokens for now and return them from the alleged thieves to their original holders. It appears, from the evidence, that the block producers judged the situation correctly as an attempted theft and that justice was served.

However, despite the seemingly happy resolution of this specific incident, the way it was handled raises important and troubling questions for EOS and the broader blockchain community, as many observers have noted in the days since the event. Crucially, the decision was made by an anonymous group of network insiders with no input from the broader community or recourse to challenge the decision. This inequitable decision-making power – you might call it centralization – seems to go against the egalitarian ethos of the blockchain community as well as EOS’s own Constitution.

This is not to imply that EOS is wholly in the wrong. As blockchain entrepreneurs ourselves, we are intimately familiar with the unexpected twists and turns inherent in building a technology platform. We are inclined to agree with those who say EOS’s action was an understandable, one-off fix to a fast-moving situation in which the correct action was clear. It was a fudge, but an understandable one, and certainly preferable to the alternative in that instant. Nevertheless, it underscores how much work there is left to do if we are to build an industry with strong, transparent, reliable safeguards for smart contracts.

There are some concrete solutions to which we as a community can make a commitment in order to build the strongest possible blockchain future. In the case of smart contracts and arbitration, businesses should adopt a few fundamental best practices.

First, we must remember that a strong blockchain platform provides the tools for people to make good decisions. Decentralization does not mean insulation; it just means that participants have control over their assets and information and with whom they decide to share them. Mechanisms for dispute resolution must be robust, but transparent. The reason so many commenters are upset with EOS is the opacity with which it and its block producers acted. All participants must understand and be able to trust the parameters of any transaction they enter into. This transparency must extend to the arbiters, and the community should be able to remove them if they are judged to be corrupt. Transparency, an understanding of best practices, and a strong, equitable system for resolving disputes will be increasingly important as the space matures.

EOS has certainly achieved a great deal already, and we celebrate the progress they have made in moving the technology forward. But that should not distract us, as this recent incident makes clear, from doggedly continuing to establish the tools and safeguards the blockchain space will need if it is to be successful. Transparency and reliability in smart contract dispute resolution are a great place to start.