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What’s the deal with eSignatures?

We do almost everything online these days. Whether it’s keeping in touch with friends, getting up-to-date with what’s happening in the world, or shopping for basic necessities, the virtual world is one that we’ve become accustomed to. Even a large chunk of business communication and transactions are conducted online. So why not signing documents too?

eSignatures (or digital signatures) offer businesses an avenue to increase productivity and efficiency. Staff who deal with managing paperwork can shave time off their working week. It’s also especially valuable for businesses that work internationally and won’t have to rely on couriering documents or waiting to meet the signee in person before finalizing documents. Plus, it’s good for the environment too as companies deal with less paper overall. In this article, we look at everything you need to know about eSignatures.

Overview:

What is an eSignature?

eSignatures and digital signatures are a legally binding way to acknowledge or endorse an electronic document or form. The two terms may sound indistinguishable but they do differ slightly.

eSignatures are a digitalized version of a person’s handwritten signature, or digital fingerprint. This is then authenticated by another unique aspect such as the signer’s corporate ID or email address.

Digital signatures are a kind of eSignature but are more secure because each is distinct. Digital signatures use a standard format called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), through which a private key and a public key are generated.

In short, they work like electronic fingerprints. Security is assured as, once signed, the document is encrypted with the signature permanently embedded. It is also marked with a time stamp. Therefore, if the document changes once it has been signed, the signature is automatically invalidated.

What are the benefits of using digital signatures?

Convenience, improving efficiency, security, and ease of use are just some advantages of eSignatures. Here are some reasons why they’re better.

Available anywhere, at any time

eSignatures are undoubtedly the most convenient way to sign documents. You don’t need to set up a meeting with anyone or make special arrangements whereby documents have to be printed and sent over to particular parties. They’re especially beneficial for businesses that often deal with urgent documents or want to close sales or contracts as quickly as possible.

Because you can sign a document digitally, on any device, all that’s needed is an internet connection. This means parties can do it at any time of the day, at their own convenience.

Saves time and money

Think about the amount of money spent on papers in your office. The time spent printing out documents on these sheets of paper and arranging them in separate piles for different parties to sign. Then there’s the scanning of these documents once they’re signed, to store them in the company’s system.

There are also other costs involved with getting documentation done, such as courier charges, transport costs for executives to go from one office to another if more than one signature is needed, and also postage charges. When using eSignatures, documents can be signed by anyone in any part of the world – even at the same time.

As they are delivered electronically, there is no need to wait for documents to come in from the parties involved. It improves document accuracy too, as you’ll no longer have to worry about signees missing a page as you can enable mandatory fields. Say goodbye to repeat attempts at signing a document. What used to take hours – or even days – in the past can now be achieved in a couple of minutes.

Simple to learn and repeat

Once everyone in your company learns how easy it is to get digital signatures, it’ll be effortless for them to use it in every relevant instance. You don’t have to be an expert in technology to get digital signatures adopted by everyone in your company.

It’s also possible to customize and personalize the user interface for eSignatures. And, to make things even simpler, it can be combined with other processes used in your company to make creating legally binding documents straightforward for everyone.

High levels of security and reduced legal risk

There is no need to worry that your documents or digital signatures could end up in the wrong hands. Every element of a digital signature is tracked and documented. Plus, encryption makes them incredibly secure and ensures that only the people who should have access to them do.

An encrypted document also means that no aspect of the document can be changed, such as pages being removed or added. So what has been signed is the final document. And, in cases where two-factor authentication is needed, you can be assured that nobody will be able to copy or falsify a signature.

Digital signatures are also legally recognized in most countries so the documents that use them are legally-binding. You won’t have to worry about a signatory disputing his signature as you’ll be protected in the eyes of the law.

What are the downsides of eSignatures?

While there aren’t many downsides in principle to the e-signing process, there could be some weaknesses depending on the providers you choose. Here are a handful of possibilities that could arise.

Limited storage

Some providers require users to store documents on their servers forever. It’s understandable that businesses want to have control over where their company documents are kept and might not want to sign up for this. Before you start using an eSignature vendor, find out who has control of documents and where they will be stored.

Varying security protocols

Similar to storage rules, security protocols vary between vendors too. Find out if your eSignature documents have some form of tamper protection. A digital signature offers the highest standard of protection so look for providers that offer encryption too.

Proprietary software

Using an eSignature service that uses proprietary software might cause issues for users. You could get locked into it forever or have a very hard time changing providers. Choose a supplier that conforms to the digital signature standards so it’s easier to switch vendors if you want to.

Everyone needs to agree

All parties involved have to agree to sign via a digital signature in order to use the service. If you find yourself in a tricky situation where one party involved refuses to use an eSignature, you’ll have to go down the traditional ‘wet’ signature route.

Are eSignatures legal?

Most countries around the world have adopted legislation and regulations making eSignatures legal. The process was first approved in the European Union (EU), when the EU Directive for Electronic Signatures was passed in 1999.

The following year, the United States passed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN). The rules set out in the rest of the world are mostly modeled after these two laws.

Are eSignatures legal in Singapore?

The Electronic Transactions Act (Cap.88) of Singapore legally recognizes eSignatures and its use is regulated by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). eSignatures are acceptable in Singapore in commercial and consumer agreements, board meeting minutes, negotiable instruments, bills of exchange, human resource agreements, Singapore government filings, non-disclosure agreements, and IP licenses documents. They are not appropriate for wills, powers of attorney, warehouse receipts, and contracts for the sale disposition of immovable property.

How can Sleek help you with eSignatures?

SleekSign allows businesses to go paperless with a seamless eSignature process. It’s quick and easy to eSign documents from your preferred device. All you have to do is create an account, upload the document you want signed and send it. Then wait for your signatories to sign it and it’s done.

Best of all, SleekSign is a free service, with unlimited users and unlimited signature requests. You’ll also get an audit trail and be able to set reminders. There will also be unlimited templates coming soon, giving businesses more flexibility. Compared with the cost and limited services offered by competitors in this field, SleekSign clearly stands out as the best option.

Get eSigning now

eSignatures make businesses run smoother and save on time and resources. Given that they are legally binding too, it’s the smart step that businesses should take to improve efficiency. If you’d like to incorporate the eSignature process into your business, contact us here to see how we can help.

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