The Good And The Bad Of Electronic Signatures

Electronic Signatures

Electronic Signatures have been in use for years. the Covid pandemic and the shift to a remote working model brought them into more mainstream use.

In this post we will look at the pro’s and con’s of working with electronic signatures.

When moving to electronic signatures it is important for businesses to follow industry standards as well as government regulations to ensure the validity requirements are met.

Once a company determines the type of electronic signature service they want, it is important to familiarize themselves with regulations associated with electronic signatures and all those that will be using the service are in agreement to using it as well. Businesses must also prove the validity of the electronic signature.

Before the above mentioned steps can begin it is imperative that the business evaluates the pros and cons of working with e-signatures and what they should expect when using it.


Electronic Signatures Vs. Digital Signatures

By definition an electronic signature is a type of digital signature. The only difference is in the security and nonrepudiation that the transactions require.

One draw back that electronic signatures have over digital signatures is the use of cryptographic technology which is used to verify the signers identity and also to ensure the document was not tampered with. E-signatures do not use this.

Digital signatures in addition to the features mentioned above also have various levels of security. This is based on the issuing certificate authority as well as the level of encryption provided.

Most electronic signatures included an image of a hand written or wet signature, but this isn’t a requirement.

The most important thing about an electronic signature service is that it should comply with the legal standards for the location the organization is based.


E-Signature - Pro's

E-signatures can be convenient, but other positive aspects are usually overlooked.

Some of those features include:

  • Accessible – Allows those that need to sign to be able to where ever they are in the world.
  • Secure – With the correct implementation, electronic signatures are super secure. There are specialized firms such as Docusign that exist, as well as various desktop tools have such e-signature capabilities.
  • Enable the automation of processes – E-signatures are part of a companies streamlining of digital processes. As soon as all the signatures are gathered, the next step in the workflow can begin. It also gives visibility into who has signed and who has yet to sign.
  • Enhanced records management – Once all parties have signed, they can save a copy of the signed document for their own records. There is no need to make copies and send a copy of the signed documents via email so that all parties can have a copy.
  • Fast – Electronic signatures are fast. When someone sends out a document to sign, everyone gets alerted so they can quickly sign.

E-Signature - Con's

The use of electronic signatures also brings up a number of issues for businesses.

A contingency plan might be needed if issues cannot be overcome in certain situations.

  •  Advanced technology may be required – Online tools can work, but they might not address every scenario. A lot of transactions already have an in person component. This in person components allow for all parties to collect a wet signature, or share tools for fully remote transactions.
  • Trust – A lot of people do not trust technology, especially the older generation. It is important that businesses also allow for wet signatures.
  • Resistance to change – When introducing something new, people will usually resist the change, that is why wet signatures are still rather common. After the Covid lockdowns ended, some businesses reverted back to wet signatures as they sought to reinstate their old processes.

Things To Keep In Mind When Implementing Electronic Signatures (E-Signatures)

E-signatures can help to future proof a business against various ways people work over time.
It is important for companies to build trust in the platform with all parties to ensure they are familiar and comfortable with electronic signatures.
E-signatures often have an image of a wet signature which can increase trust as well as limit any potential changes.
It is essential that all parties consent to the use of electronic signatures. If one side chooses not to want to use e-signatures, the business needs to collect wet signatures from that party.

 If a business moves only to e-signatures, it is important that a contingency plan is required for those situations that require hard copies.

When implementing electronic signature software, it is important that software providers are engaged. These vendors can ensure the security requirements as well as bring a level of trust with their technologies.

It is important as well that businesses have to understand their own security requirements and have contingency measures just in case.

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