In this blog post, we look at what is an e signature, and how to do an e signature for the digital transfer of documents.
Electronic signatures have changed the way businesses use signatures and the signing of documents. In just 5 short years, the use of e signature transactions grew exponentially- from 89 million to 754 million dollars.
It’s predicted that by 2026, the global digital signature market will reach $14.1 billion.
What is an e signature?
To put it simply, e signatures are digital replicas of handwritten signatures to validate electronic documents.
The importance of electronic signatures
Why are digital signatures becoming more significant in today’s rapid digital world?
- Cost savings
- Legal Validity
Let’s talk about each of these individually.
E signatures allow individuals to remotely sign and verify their documents. Allowing them to do it from home without the time delay of needing to send and receive physical copies.
The convenience of e signatures speeds up documentation processes. Rather than having to wait for documents to arrive in the post and return. With electronic signatures, documents can be verified on the same day.
Companies using e signatures found that errors are reduced by up to 80%. Saving on documents reprinted by human error. The number of missing files reduced by 66%! Making retrieval of documents much faster to find.
With no physical copies, there is no need for printing costs, mailing and storing physical copies.
A basic five-drawer filing cabinet costs around $600 and takes up 4 sq ft. of space. Add a bunch of these to cover all your employees’ workloads and soon you’re looking at thousands of dollars. Thousands are saved with simple digital storage of documentation.
Believe it or not, e signatures are much less prone to fraud than handwritten signatures. This is because of the support of biometric authentication and digital certificates.
Biometric authentication requires the physical characteristics of an individual. These include iris patterns, fingerprints and facial features to confirm an identity.
Digital certificates establish the identity of an individual or organisation in an electronic environment. They verify that an electronic document or e signature, is genuine and untampered with.
A digital certificate contains several key pieces of information, including
- The name of the certificate owner
- The identity of the issuing authority
- The certificate’s expiration date
- A public key encrypts and decrypts information
- A digital signature, is used to verify the authenticity of the certificate
To obtain a digital certificate, a person or business must request one from a certificate authority (CA). (which is a trusted organisation that issues digital certificates). Then this CA will verify the requester’s identity, and then issue the certificate with the needed details if approved.
To confirm the accuracy of data with a digital certificate, a user can validate the issuer and expiry date. If the certificate is valid and the issuer is reliable, the user can trust the data is genuine and untampered.
To generate an electronic signature via biometric authentication, a user must supply biometric data to a device/system with a scanner. This will create a unique code linked to the biometric data.
The receiver’s device or system examines the digital certificate to guarantee it came from the user’s biometric data. This includes verifying the certificate’s expiration and the issuer’s identity. If all is valid and the issuer is trusted, the signature is accepted and action is allowed.
E-signed documents are accepted in court, providing the e-signature is validated through proper protocols. In the UK, E signatures are legally binding to execute a document according to Law Com No386.
Interestingly, e signatures boost the user experience. This in turn increases customer loyalty by up to 500%!
History of e signatures
Interestingly the concept of the e signature was first described by Diffie and Hellman back in 1976!
Fast forward to 1991, the e signature was legally recognised in the US and Canada. Later later followed by the rest of the world.
We have since seen a transformation of the entire corporate world through e signature tools! With many thanks to document management software, e signatures have more support and are made easier between parties to process.
Examples of digital signature and electronic signature
An electronic signature is an umbrella phrase for any way to digitally sign a document or other online communication. Such as:
- digital signature,
- entering a name in a field, or
- biometric verifying (like a fingerprint or iris scan).
E signatures are not as regulated as digital signatures. This is due to not being able to see if someone has altered a document after signing it.
A digital signature is an encrypted electronic signature which confirms the validity of a document or message. Made up of a unique code or set of characters, created using the sender’s private key and the document contents.
Here are a couple of examples of how to do an e signature and a digital signature:
- Electronic signature: Jane needs to sign a contract with her new employer. Instead of printing, scanning, and emailing it back, she decides to use an electronic signature service to sign the document. She types her name into the designated field and clicks a button to create an electronic signature. Which is attached to the contract.
- Digital signature: John wants to send a sensitive document to his client via email. To ensure the authenticity of the document, he creates a digital signature. He does this by using his private key and the contents of the document. He then attaches the digital signature to the document and sends it to his client.
What are the methods of creating and confirming e-signatures?
Methods of creating and confirming e-signatures include
- digital signature software
- online services
- capturing handwritten signatures with a scanner or mobile phone.
What are the different ways how to create a digital signature free?
There are several different ways to create a digital signature for free:
- Use a free digital signature service:
Several software programs offer free digital signatures. These programs generate a unique code linked to the document and the signer.
- Using a free online e-signature service:
Many websites provide a free way to make digital signatures. People can upload documents and add a signature with a mouse, touchpad, or touchscreen.
3 . Capturing a handwritten signature with a scanner or smartphone:
Scanning a handwritten signature or taking a picture with a smartphone can create a digital version. This is then put into a document as a digital signature.
Discussing free advantages, we must remember that one requiring payment for electronic signatures may offer more security and reliability.
It’s always a good idea to research the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. If you’re unsure, consult with a legal professional before relying on a digital signature for essential documents.
How to do an e signature?
If you’re still wondering how to do an e signature, then let’s simplify the process.
To create an electronic signature, you will need to follow these steps:
- Find a platform or tool that allows you to create electronic signatures.
There are several options available, including online services, software tools, and word-processing programs.
- Prepare the document or communication that you want to sign. Ensure that the document format and signature tool are compatible.
- Follow the prompts on your signature tool to create an electronic signature. Whether it’s typing your name into a designated field or drawing your signature using a mouse or touchpad. You may even use a biometric feature like a fingerprint or iris scan to sign the document.
- Attach the electronic signature to the document. Save the signed document or communication in a specific format or location for your copy with today’s date.
- Send the signed document to the recipient. Therefore, if the document or communication is sensitive, you may consider using encryption to protect it while it is in transit.
Using a digital signature is an essential step for your business.
Your customer services will improve, your brand reputation and a lot of cost savings!
Make your documentation processes easier by utilising a digital documentation system with an e signature feature already built in. This ensures all your digital processes are in the same place. Also eliminates the need for a third-party app.
For more information, you can take a look at DocFlite for your e signature needs.