Electronic signatures are also unique
May 13, 2022 †
Today, business deals are no longer closed with handshakes, but with electronic signatures. Doug Luftman, VP & Deputy Director for Product, Innovation Services and Government Affairs at Docusign explains that electronic signatures are a legally recognized method of signing contracts from around the world.
Luftman: “We use them to finalize agreements: from identity verification to signing business contracts and confirming invoices. The electronic signature has existed for more than twenty years, but was even more widely accepted during the pandemic. Organizations realized they needed a better way to sign. Two years ago, managers were in a completely unpredictable situation and faced difficult choices about how to continue their activities. The most innovative companies have taken the step of digitizing their activities and have been reaping the rewards ever since. . “
More efficiency and less risk
“There are several reasons why more and more organizations are relying on electronic signatures to complete various business transactions,” Luftman continues. “In addition to the added value of hybrid work, e-signatures are faster, more secure, and more sustainable than pen-and-paper alternatives. Surprisingly, there are still organizations that prefer traditional signatures. The main objections to e-signatures are uncertainty about security, legality and validity. “
However, many companies forget the risk of sending confidential, often very sensitive, information in the traditional way. “For example, when you first physically send a paper document for signature, even if it happens in person by courier, you lose control of the document. These security and control risks remain even if the document is sent online for delivery to the recipient.” press, “Luftman said.
“The electronic signature, on the other hand, provides a secure, digital workflow that ensures a clear and predictable process of controlled access rights throughout the journey. Senders can maintain security standards from the moment a digital document is sent through to its final signature and even return. It is important for companies to know that they can sign documents securely and reliably in a new digital business environment.Whether it is new employee contracts, invoices or sales contracts, electronic signatures can encrypt important documents and make the record, no need for an outdated fax system or courier. E-signatures keep documents confidential and increase the convenience and security of businesses. “
Protection and verification
In addition, electronic signatures, like handwritten signatures, are unique. Old-fashioned signatures have one major drawback: With enough time and practice, a signature can be imitated. Luftman explains: “It can be very difficult to concretely determine whether a written signature has actually been created by the legitimate signatory. Electronic signatures, on the other hand, have several layers of protection and verification built in. Unlike written signatures, providers of electronic “Signatures can provide robust records that act as an audit trail if proof of the transaction is ever needed, giving all parties confidence that their documents are valid, even if a dispute arises later.”
If teams need an electronic signature with additional identity protection, there are options to make the signature even more robust. This can be useful for certain types of important documents and / or documents used in heavily regulated industries. An advanced electronic signature (AES) or a qualified electronic signature (QES) can be used to verify the identity of the signatory and issue a separate “digital certificate” specifically designed to enable the signatory to sign the document electronically. sign with an AES or QES. These digital signatures show that the signatory has gone beyond a traditional electronic signature to further verify the authenticity of their identity.
In addition to a more secure transaction, e-signature signatories receive a digital record that records transaction information such as date, time stamp, identity verification used and IP address. Luftman states: “This proves all the details of the transaction. The audit trail thus provides protection for both the signatory and the recipient. It can be used as admissible evidence in a lawsuit to resolve a dispute over the authenticity and / or legitimacy of a signed document. To resolve . “
Why it’s time for companies to adopt e-signatures
With electronic signatures, companies can increase productivity, reduce costs, enable teleworking and speed up business. This enables organizations to grow faster and achieve more revenue.
Companies need to be sure that the law has taken digital transformations into account and is currently providing adequate protection for digital contract signatories. The Electronic Communications Act 2000, Electronic Signatures Regulation 2002 and eIDAS ensure that electronic signatures across Europe offer additional legal protection compared to the alternative. “Both the legal framework and the security mechanisms already exist, so there is no need to wait,” Luftman concludes. “It’s time for companies to use e-signatures.”