What Is an Electronic Signature? Get the Full Scoop Here
Even though people have been signing documents digitally for over 20 years, many still don’t know what is an electronic signature. Time and money are important to growing businesses that thrive on the timely execution of agreements. Electronic signatures are one of the ways business is getting done faster and at less cost.
No longer do you need to fly from West Coast to East to sign documents. Businesses have made this possible through the development of the electronic signature. Don’t move, we’re going deep into this great advancement.
What is an Electronic Signature?
U.S. legislation and the Electronic Signature & Records Association (ESRA), define electronic signatures as:
“an electronic sound, symbol or process that is attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”
This versatility in definition allows many companies, including Foxit eSign, to offer electronic signature solutions to businesses that fit their business profile and needs.
There are many benefits for businesses to consider when it comes to adopting electronic signatures.
What are the Benefits?
In today’s connected digital universe, the traditional method of signing documents is dwarfed by the advancements in technology and the advent of electronic signatures. So, what are the key benefits?
- Saves time: One of the most valuable resources and often it feels like we just don’t have enough of it. Using an electronic signature, nearly 82% of agreements are completed in under a day and 49% are done in under 15 minutes.
- Faster decision and action: As you know getting all the signatures and carrying it forward to action is usually a lengthy process. Not anymore. With main managers being able to sign electronically turn around and carry through are much quicker.
- Higher levels of efficiency: Removes the manual work needed and frees up time to do other important work.
- Saves money: Reducing costs associated with and increased productivity saves the company money, up to $36 per agreement.
- Convenient: Sign from anywhere with only an internet connection need.
Why Should You Use Electronic Signatures in Your Business?
There are many reasons to implement electronic signatures in your business, especially if you rely on agreement executions. The major reasons are time, money and security. Did you know that electronically signed agreements are more enforceable than paper ones?
A paper agreement only contains a signature and date. An electronically signed agreement goes much further even tell you where it was signed. It ties more data to the signer than a paper agreement will. This makes it more enforceable.
The cost savings go beyond just the paper. When you begin to account for the hours of staff time saved, in addition to the signing, scanning and emailing of the agreements. All without the benefit of the auto notification upon receipt the savings are huge.
The legality of Electronic Signatures
Electronic signatures have been recognized as legal in the USA for almost 20 years. Most countries began accepting some type of virtual signature as legal with the passage of the United States Electronic Signatures in Global and Nation Commerce (Esign) Act in 2000. In fact, there are around 65 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, United Arab Emirate, Vietnam and more where an electronic signature is legally binding.
What Makes Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?
Some of the standards that are used to determine and certify the legality of electronic signatures must include:
- The document signer is uniquely identified and can be linked to the signature
- The signer needs to be the only party with access to the assigned private key (a cryptographic term) used to make the signature.
- The signature needs to be able to identify if the related data has been altered with, after the signing.
- And, if the data has been altered, there must be a way to cancel the signature.
Are Electronic Signatures Safe?
It’s natural that people are suspicious of putting their personal information out on the internet. Most of the time that suspicion is unnecessary. Most often, about 85% of the time, identity theft involves offline documents.
So long as you a strong password and sign every time (no copy and pasting) along with telling your employees to do the same, eSignatures are much more secure than the traditional option.
Should You Notarize With an Electronic Signature?
If you use a secure document signing system like Foxit eSign then it’s simple. Multiple signees and witnesses can utilize a legally binding electronic signature. Today, in addition to edocuments there are eNotaries who are people who notarize documents electronically.
Many people think this changing the way people notarize and why shouldn’t it. A notary is required to verify the signer, administering an oath and this can be done through a webcam and electronically signed a document.
For Notaries, it is more than likely you will come across e-signed, digital documents that require notarization. Still, that doesn’t mean you need to be able to do an eNotarization. No state has required this as yet.
When Should You Avoid Using an Electronic Signature?
Certain forms must be signed the traditional way of pen and paper. For instance, Tax forms need to be physically signed. Also, documents related to deceased persons like death notices and wills should also be signed with a written signature according to most legal teams.
The shortlist includes:
- Court pleadings
- Family documents
- Testamentary trusts
- Powers of attorney
- Certain other documents
In any country where there is no legal determination or law on the legality of electronic signatures, it is best to have a written signature on agreements.
Is it Worth Making the Switch to Electronic Signatures?
Where it is legal and the same as on-paper, definitely.
Although, it’s already been mentioned using an electronic signature saves a ton of time and money along with being more secure.
We love this great advancement and you should, too. You now understand what is an electronic signature and all its benefits. Still not sure that Foxit eSign is right for you? Check it out for 14 days before you decide to buy it or not, it’s that simple.0