Your signature is required! You might be certifying that you’ve accepted the terms of a agreement, applying for a passport or giving your child permission to go on a field trip. Chances are you won’t be appearing in person, putting pen to paper and signing with a flourish. This blog post will explain when this type of signature is necessary, explore the types of electronic signatures that can replace it and explain when each one is used.
Table of Contents1. What is a wet signature?
2. The limitations of wet signatures
3. What is an electronic signature?
4. Are an electronic and digital signature the same?
5. The 3 types of electronic signatures
5.1 What is a simple signature?
5.2 What is an advanced signature?
5.3 What is a qualified signature?
6. US laws governing the use of electronic signatures
7. How e-signatures can be combined with automated workflows
8. Benefits of using electronic signature
What is a wet signature?
The limitations of wet signatures
In business, using wet signatures for approvals, contracts and agreements is time consuming and expensive.
- All signers must be gathered in one place, or the document must be mailed or sent as an attachment in an email
- They pose a security risk because they can be easily forged or altered
- If they’re left on someone’s desk so they can be accessed by unauthorized personnel
- There’s no visibility into the process to see whether the document has been received and signed
- Documents signed on paper can be lost, misfiled or destroyed by a natural or human-made disaster
- Paper documents are not searchable
- Storing physical documents requires office space or off-site storage
What is an electronic signature?
Electronic signature is a general term that describes any signature that is electronically transmitted, whether it's written in person on a tablet, indicated by checking a box, delivered via a password protected stamp or provided by a service like DocuWare technology partners DocuSign or Validated ID that are also Trust Service Providers (TSP).
Are an electronic signature and a digital signature the same?
A digital signature is a type of electronic signature. While the terms may be used interchangeably, this is misleading. Digital signatures use complex algorithms, public and private digital keys and certificates which are overseen by TSPs to authenticate the identity of the signer and ensure the integrity of the document.
The 3 types of electronic signatures
Electronic signatures are categorized as simple, advance and qualified. The most important difference between them is the level of security each one offers.
What is a simple signature?
What is a qualified signature?
With a qualified signature, in addition to encryption of the key, the identity of the signer is confirmed by a certificate deposited with a TSP. This type of e-signature ensures that the document has not been manipulated because the digital certificate authenticates the signer’s identity. The qualified certificates are stored by the TSP and can be retrieved at any time.
US laws governing the use of electronic signatures
- A clear intent to sign by each party
- Consent to do business electronically
- A signature associated with the record and not stored separately
- A record that is archived and available to all signers
- An opt-out clause that enables the signers to request a paper contract
- State and family law matters
- Court orders, pleadings, motions, and other court documents
- Notices of foreclosure, eviction, or repossession
- Cancellation notices, such as utilities or insurance benefits
- Safety recall notices
How electronic signatures can be combined with eforms and automated workflows
Benefits of using electronic signatures
- Improved security that reduces the risk of forgery or tampering and creates secure electronic records
- Quicker collection of signatures to speed contract management, internal administration and customer, partner and vendor communication
- Automated data capture and the creation of an audit trail for each document
- The ability to review, sign, and return documents from almost any device, at any time
- Improved recordkeeping though more efficient tracking, auditing, storage and retrieval
- Savings on paper, postage, time and other resources
Electronic signatures powered by DocuWare
- Transfer signed advanced and qualified documents automatically between the document management system, the TSP and the signers
- Take full advantage of electronic signature technology by improving remote processes, enhancing security and streamlining compliance
- Notify stakeholders by email when a document is available for signing
- Enable version control to make sure you have the final signed document on file
- Use simple signatures along with eforms when proving the signer’s identity is not critical
- Collect e-signatures for a document from all relevant signatories from one workflow
- Deliver contracts to signers within minutes to minimize delays
- Save the signed document in an audit-proof manner in the document repository