The global electronic signature market is projected to grow from $2.8 billion in 2020 to $14.1 billion by 2026.
As e-signatures gain widespread adoption, the terms "electronic signature" and "digital signature" are often used interchangeably. However, these terms have distinct differences you’ll want to know before selecting one over the other.
What Is an Electronic Signature?
Electronic signatures refer to verifications applied to a document electronically vs. a signature on a physical piece of paper. These "signatures" (which don't always resemble your handwritten signature) affirm agreements or transactions between people or entities.
The electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services (eIDAS) oversees electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European Union's internal market. It regulates electronic signatures and their embedding processes to provide a safe way for users to conduct business online.
Besides that, there is the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act is the U.S. law that facilitates e-signatures. Under the ESIGN Act, electronic sounds, symbols, or processes can constitute an e-signature, as long as it’s attached to a contract with the intent to sign.
Electronic signatures are ideal for:
- Government agencies
- Banking, finance, and insurance businesses
- Human resources
- Real estate, legal, and consultancy businesses
Electronic signatures are easy to use via an electronic signature app. Once documents are uploaded and sent to signers, recipients can digitally sign these files on their laptops, desktop computers, tablets, mobile phones, or any other device.
After signatures are obtained, documents are time-stamped and secured with a certificate. This added security layer gives your document a unique digital signature that is legally equivalent to a written signature.
What Is a Digital Signature?
A digital signature is the technology that proves the authenticity of a document. Digital signatures require a digital certificate from a certificate authority to vet a user's identity. The certificate is bound by cryptography to the signed document, creating a unique digital fingerprint.
Digital signatures also embed a public key infrastructure (PKI) into the signing process. PKIs generate two keys— one public and one private — to identify the signer and the entity requesting the signature. Both the digital certificate and PKI provide stringent identification and security for sensitive legal documents.
Certain states and regulatory bodies require digital signatures over electronic signatures alone.
Electronic Signature vs. Digital Signature
Electronic signatures are digital symbols that a signer applies to a contract while digital signatures use encryption methods to authenticate digital documents. While both signatures are legally binding, electronic signatures replace traditional signatures.
- Use standard methods (employee ID, email, or multi-factor authentication) to authenticate a signer’s identity
- Verify document authenticity
- Are equivalent to a handwritten signature
- Use audit trails to validate signed documents
- Are easy to apply via electronic signature apps
- Use sophisticated certificate-based identification methods
- Secure document integrity
- Are not equivalent to a handwritten signature
- Use encryption to verify the authenticity of signed documents
- Require third-party verification
Start Sending Secure Electronic Signatures With Sign
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- Unlimited Users: Sign as many users as you want – no extra charges.
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