Blockchain tech 13X ‘too expensive’ to justify use: DocuSign CEO

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Daniel Springer, the chief executive officers at electronic signature technology company DocuSign, says the firm isn’t likely to incorporate additional blockchain technology anytime soon as current infrastructure is far cheaper.

In a Quartz report published yesterday, Springer said the San Francisco-based DocuSign’s 2018 integration of the Ethereum blockchain involved the use of smart contracts with the firm’s e-signature and transaction management service.

According to the CEO, this system resulted in agreements costing roughly $1 each, compared to the usual $0.07 per agreement under DocuSign’s standard encryption measures. In other words, using blockchain ended up 13X the cost. Springer said:

“To spend $1 just on the storage is a little bit crazy.”

DocuSign’s senior vice-president of engineering Tom Casey said most of the costs involved maintaining, managing, and operating blockchain infrastructure, rather than providing the firm’s e-signature services. According to Casey, there hasn’t been enough widespread adoption to help lower expenses associated with blockchain.

However, both execs have stated they see the technology as having a possible future with DocuSign. Springer called blockchain “intriguing” at a conference in September, but added that he believed the technology “doesn’t have the scale to provide attractive economics” at present. Casey said he would be “keeping an eye on” blockchain use cases for identity protection.

In addition to the Ethereum partnership, DocuSign worked with Visa in 2015 to develop a proof-of-work concept for smart contracts using blockchain technology. The firm’s website states DocuSign is a member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and the Accord Project, facilitating the adoption of smart legal contracts.

The company’s shares have risen more than 209% in 2020, starting from $75.90 in January and were valued at $234.82 per share at the time of publication.