Over the past year, more organisations have accelerated their digital transformation processes due to the push for remote work. Digital document signing, or the process of individuals or organisations adding an electronic signature to a document, has created business continuity by eliminating the need for a handwritten signature on paper.
These e-signatures allow parties to sign anywhere, at any time, saving time, giving businesses a competitive edge and improving customer experience.
In fact, many business processes have changed for good as a result of the pandemic, but without proper security, digital transformation is vulnerable to attacks and potential service failures.
Digital signatures offer more convenience than wet signatures, and, if done correctly, they can be even more secure to ensure trust and legal validity when signing contracts, agreements or any other type of document.
However, while the law provides options for different types of e-signatures, simply opening a document and adding a signature image or click-through will not satisfy the security and legal validity requirements for many types of transactions.
To meet regulations for e-transactions, as well as industry requirements, organisations often chose a digital signature system to protect document integrity and apply legally-valid signatures.
Benefits of a digital document signing service
Ensuring trust between parties is critical for individuals and organisations conducting business. With the reduction of face-to-face interactions, there is a greater need to build trust and validation into signed documents to successfully exchange contracts securely, especially when going paperless.
Utilising a document signing solution will help organisations build that trust and security, eliminating the need for in-person interactions and handwritten signatures. Additionally, by using a provider with suitable audits and accreditations, organisations have greater certainty that their documents are legally binding and recognised as equal to a handwritten signature.
A digital document signing service:
- Eliminates the need for a handwritten signature.
- Allows for signatures anywhere, at any time, on any device.
- Provides validated identity for organisations to mass sign and for individual to securely sign.
- Is legally binding depending on the country.
- Can be used to sign all document types.
- Is generally quicker than hand-signing documents in person or with a notary.
- Is highly secure.
- Reduces the environmental impact of printing and mailing.
- Decreases cost and human error.
- Improves an organisation’s competitiveness.
- Increases customer satisfaction and experience.
While the law provides options for different types of e-signatures, simply opening a document and adding a signature image or click-through will not satisfy the security and legal validity requirements for many types of transactions.
Mitigate your risks
When working remotely or with parties in different locations, it’s critical to ensure that documents and contracts are transferred securely, and that the identities of the parties are verified. One of the surest ways to secure digital document signing is through public key infrastructure (PKI) technology, which proves the identity and authenticity of the sender and prevents tampering with the document.
With PKI, a digital signature is an encrypted hash of the message that only parties with a copy of the specific public key can decrypt. This form of electronic signature allows recipients to verify the identity of the signer, and to verify that the document contents have not been altered since the signing.
Unlike a scanned or typed signature, a digital signature secured with PKI is virtually impossible to forge. Optional features allow additional time-stamps to be applied to the document as an independent proof of time, or to provide long-term validation for archiving purposes.
To ensure a document is legally binding, a document signing solution must comply with stringent government standards. For example, a Qualified Electronic Signature meets the requirements of the European eIDAS regulation (No. 910/2014), which is recognised around the globe as the legal equivalent to a handwritten signature.
In fact, the level of trust is so high, the Qualified regime is a standards benchmark for electronic identity, e-signatures, and Certificate Authority supervision throughout the world. Additionally, certain industries have regulations such as the American HIPAA for healthcare records, that require audit trails to ensure signed documents are compliant.
Integrating digital signing into business processes
Many digital document signing services currently in the market utilise cloud-sharing and remove the need for any additional hardware or software.
Some of these solutions are also equipped with automated digital signing that are encrypted to prevent tampering and authenticated to verify identity and drive business processes. Solutions may also comply with various legal standards, including EU eIDAS, Swiss ZertES, and the technical requirements of the Adobe Approved Trust List (AATL).
A secure and automated document signing process will be especially important and convenient for industries that require numerous legally binding signatures, including insurance, real estate, finance, healthcare, education, as well as businesses that are supporting remote workers or that want to offer remote onboarding in their digital applications to improve and accelerate customer engagement.
Lastly, digital document signing eliminates the need for handwritten signatures, decreases costs, saves time and leaves a smaller environmental footprint. This will make it easy for any organisation to manage any volume of documents, in a variety of file formats, without additional hardware or software investment.
Stephen Davidson is Senior Manager in DigiCert’s Global Governance, Risk and Compliance team.