Offices across the world have been trending digital for years now — and with the current coronavirus pandemic, people are even less inclined than ever to deal in physical documents. In the fast-paced business landscape, the convenience of computer screens and mobile devices have increasingly pushed paper to the wayside.
So what are electronic signatures, and are they right for your business?
According to one definition, an electronic signature refers to “data in electronic form, which is logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign. This type of signature provides the same legal standing as a handwritten signature as long as it adheres to the requirements of the specific regulation under which it was created.”
In a paper for MIT written by David Fillingham in 1997, he outlined that the application of signatures, either handwritten or digital, was to achieve three main security services:
Authentication: A signature proves the signers identity.
The most obvious example being the signature on the back of a credit card indicating who the owner is, or on a check to indicate where the money is coming from.
Data integrity: A signature is assurance that the data of the document has not been modified since the signature was applied.
While a traditional signature itself does not provide data integrity, things like indelible ink and tamper-proof paper provide some measure of security. Digital signatures take this aspect a step further, since any modification of a digitally signed document will always result in verification failure.
Non-repudiation: A signature prevents the signatory from denying involvement in an agreement.
Providing evidence to a third-party that a signatory participated in a transaction or other type of agreement protects the parties within the agreement against false denials of participation. For example, a customer’s signature on a receipt from a credit card transaction protects the store and card-issuing bank from false chargebacks.
The objective of an electronic signature is to quickly and efficiently authenticate a digital document without the use of pen and paper. Electronic signatures are much quicker than the traditional electronic method of sign-and-scan, and according to a 2013 research study on signing productivity in high-volume environments such as sales, finance and human relations, replacing traditional methods with electronic signatures saves an average of $20 per document.
Plus, by using electronic signatures to authenticate your documents, you help to eliminate the opportunity for fraud. This leads to a considerably more secure process for documents than even pen-and-paper based signing. Electronic signature platforms also benefit from increased oversight, allowing you to centralize and monitor the signing process.
To recap — electronic signatures will help your business cut down on paper, postage and printing, save your business significant time and money, reduce overall turnaround times, protect your business from non-repudiation and provide increased security through better oversight and improved data-integrity.
If you’re interested in finding an appropriate electronic signature service for your business, Schooley Mitchell can make sure you find the right service at the best possible price. Reach out today for your risk-free consultation.