Digitization has had a profound impact on so many aspects of the (business) world, from recruitment to marketing and everything else in between. Almost everything, that is. For many companies, obtaining signatures continues to follow the same old-fashioned process that it has for centuries. Although almost everyone works online these days, many businesses continue to struggle with printers, pens, paper, and scanners to sign documents.
The use of physical or “wet signatures” continues, even though the technology to sign a document electronically has been available for a number of years. What’s more, businesses are passing up several benefits by sticking with traditional signatures. In fact, companies that adopt electronic signature solutions can reduce their document handling expenses by as much as 85%.
What Is a Wet Signature?
The traditional method for signing a document - that is, physically putting pen to paper - is also known as a wet signature. Many companies struggle to transition away from wet signatures, primarily due to a lack of awareness.
What Is a Dry Signature?
A “dry signature” describes one that is non-ink-based. One of the most common types of dry signature is the electronic signature or e-signature. This is a legally binding way to get approval on electronic documents or forms, using software to electronically generate and apply a signature.
The Advantages of Dry Signatures
The advantages of dry signatures are that they are easy to use and save firms time and money when compared with wet signatures.
Dry signatures also offer a better signee experience. While some companies continue to force their signees to sign a physical document the old-fashioned way, modern businesses should look to remove obstacles on the customer or employee journey by allowing signees to use their mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or any other device. If businesses don’t facilitate this; their competitors surely will.
There are also security risks involved with wet signatures that do not arise when using e-signatures. With traditional pen-and-paper contracts, documents have to be saved locally, in physical filing cabinets, or something similar. There is a risk of losing these physical documents that is easily avoided when files are stored and accessed digitally.
How to Adopt E-Signatures
Businesses may persist with wet signatures simply because they are unsure exactly how to digitize their existing wet signature process. However, the process of digitizing signatures couldn’t be more straightforward. E-signature software, which can be accessed via a web portal or incorporated as part of an in-house app, can be easily integrated into your existing digital tools to automate your workflows.
When considering the adoption of dry signatures, businesses should first familiarize themselves with the different versions available, including:
- A scanned version of an individual’s wet signature
- A signature drawn directly on a tablet or other touchscreen device
- A web-based platform that writes out the signees name in a “handwritten font”
And for anyone wondering if electronic signatures can be typed, the answer is “yes”. As long as businesses have some way of proving that the individual adding their name to a document is who they say they are, then a typed name qualifies as a legally binding signature.
Time to Go Digital
More and more businesses are starting to appreciate the benefits provided by dry signatures. In addition to cost savings, dry signatures can deliver huge workflow advantages, streamlining, and even automate the entire contract process. According to recent research, 65% of US-based companies that use pen and paper to collect physical signatures add an entire day to their work process.
Another advantage of adopting e-signatures is a reduction in environmental damage due to a smaller amount of paper being wasted, which can provide a huge sustainability boost. Dry signatures can also reduce the number of human errors within the contract process and boost efficiency.
More Than Just a Signature
When weighing up an electronic signature versus a physical signature, businesses should remember that e-signatures are part of an ongoing evolution in the world of document signing. They allow businesses to accelerate every step of the signing process, reduce costs, lower their environmental footprint, and complete agreements faster than ever before - all while complying with the latest regulatory demands. It’s difficult to achieve all that with a pen and paper.