The electronic signature has been officially recognized in Singapore since 2005 (according to the Electronic Transactions Act) and in other APAC countries in the years following. The electronic signature not only guarantees the integrity of a document but also authenticates the author. It cannot be canceled or reproduced on another document and it is impossible to counterfeit. A qualified electronic signature has the same status and the same legal effects as its handwritten equivalent.
It's no surprise that electronic signatures are becoming increasingly indispensable in the various commercial exchanges within the banking and insurance, retail, human resources, and real estate sectors.
We've compiled a list of the top 4 problems solved by electronic signatures.
1 - More efficient use of time
Compared to traditional signatures, the electronic signature saves a lot of time since it's possible to send a document to be signed by several signees in just a few clicks.
In many sectors, such as banking and insurance, the electronic signature makes it possible to conclude sales outside of business hours or to subscribe to online offers 24/7. An electronic contract will always be ready to be signed in seconds, which also shortens file processing time. A customer or a partner can sign a document via any device (mobile phone, tablet, PC, etc.) without having to go back to the office or pick up a scanner to be able to send it. This approach makes electronic signing vastly superior to traditional signature methods.
In the human resources sector, e-signing makes it possible to sign a work contract quickly and multiple documents can be signed and returned quickly and efficiently.
2 - Lower costs
According to a study conducted by CM.com, the electronic signature would reduce operating costs of approximately £61,672 in a year if using the Web application or £67,870 if integrated with the API (based on 500 signed documents per month and two signatories per document). Essentially, the paper management of contracts and documents to be signed is more expensive compared to the e-signature (in terms of travel, shipping costs, use of paper, etc.).
3 - Follow the progress of files
The electronic signature makes it possible to follow the progress of files in real-time. Thanks to a digital certificate, it's possible to trace each modification or action performed on the original document.
The tracking tool integrated with most electronic signature solutions can also trace the progress of signatures and send an automatic reminder to recipients who haven't signed the document. This tool informs everyone involved where each document is within the signature loop.
4 - Secure access and identity of the signatory
It is possible to choose the level of security depending on your specific needs. The three levels of security for electronic signatures are: standard (a checkbox), advanced (the identity of the signatory is linked to the signature) and qualified (each signatory must first identify with a trusted service provider).
The mere act of filling a box, putting your name or "agreement" on a website is still considered an electronic signature. The great advantage of the standard signature is that it remains very accessible to the signatory. The issue is that this type of signature is easily counterfeited. On the other hand, advanced and qualified e-signatures have a higher legal value and can be used for high-value and high-risk agreements. These categories of signatures make it possible to guarantee the identity of the signatory while conforming to certain regulations, such as the European regulation on the protection of data (GDPR).
To summarize, the digitalization of services and processes is helping the acceleration of trade in many sectors. On a daily basis, electronic signatures facilitate interactions between companies, individuals, and public organizations. Being able to choose the level of security appropriate to the needs of companies also allows us to rethink and modernize the way information and documents are accessed, managed, and secured within organizations.