What Is An Electronic Signature?

An electronic signature, also known as an e-signature, is a digital version of the paper-based method of signing signatures. It allows a person to electronically add a signature to a digital contract or document, thereby removing the need for ink and paper.

It allows a person to electronically add a signature to a digital contract or document within a secure setting.

E-signatures have been officially defined by the EU regulations on e-signatures (eIDAS) as “data in electronic form - attached to or associated with - other data in electronic form and used by the signatory to sign”.

Why Use Electronic Signatures?

There are many reasons why e-signatures might be used in place of their traditional, handwritten counterparts. The key benefit is speed. By removing physical logistics in paper methods, doing business using e-signatures is much easier, especially when required across international waters.

Not only does it streamline the document signing process, making it easier to access databases and the cloud, but it helps save on costs, breathing efficiency into tasks like long-winded audit trails.

Automating the validation and archiving of signed documents will save a lot of time and money. It’s also very environmentally friendly; with every electronic signature you sign in place of putting pen to paper, you reduce your ecological footprint.

E-signatures Vs Digital Signatures

The term “e-signature” is often used as a synonym for “digital signatures”, but in fact, the two shouldn’t be used interchangeably as their meanings are not equal.

The easiest way to distinguish between electronic and digital signatures is to know that the latter can be used in other contexts than signing a document, such as SSL certificates and cookies for ad-tracking.


This is because digital signatures embed an encrypted digital code into the signing process to verify that a known source created it and has not been altered. This is called a Personal Key Infrastructure or “PKI” and guarantees that an electronic document is authentic by identifying both the requesting party and the party providing a signature. By generating two keys (one private and one public), the PKI technology uniquely identifies the person who is signing. However, both parties involved in this process must have a digital certificate registered from an issuing certificate authority, which links the signature to its owner.

While digital and electronic signatures are equally capable of capturing legal signatures and identifying signees, the above identification process within digital signatories differentiates it from electronic signatures. Especially since many consumers still need to get a digital signature certificate.

At CM.com, we use the term electronic signature as that is our specific digital signature. However, we use “digital signature” as an umbrella term when signing a document.

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Our Sign electric signature solution allows you to complete contracts, agreements, and documents fast and securely without unnecessary printing and scanning.

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