A lot of questions come up about the use of electronic signature.
Many people wonder:
How legitimate are they?
How they can use them?
Where they can be used?
Whether an e-signature is secure?
Those are just some of the issues (and a lot more) that this guide will address.
This is electronic data entered into an electronic document to signify the consent of the signatory. This data needs to correspond to other electronic information associated with the signatory for it to be legally binding. An e-signature could be the name of a signatory typed into a section of the document, but the following requirements have to be met:
A report by Markets and Markets reveals over 30% annual growth of the e-signature trends with an estimated growth of $2.02 billion in 2020. This makes it one of the technological trends that cannot be ignored. But it is much more than just figures, the benefits of using an online signature justify the popularity it gains every year. Take a look at some of them:
How to make a signature is one of the frequently asked questions on this subject. Many people imagine it is a complex procedure however, it can be done in 4 easy ways:
How to add electronic signature in different programs like Word or PDF may vary a little. Let us look at some of the common programs.
Removing an electronic signature in Word is as easy as right-clicking on the signature line, choose remove signature and confirm by clicking yes.
You can also click the arrow next to the signature which will produce the option to remove signature and you can click on it.
In some circumstances, you need to have more than just one signature on a document. It is still possible to collect more than one e-signature and the process is simpler than using paper documents.
To be able to insert signature in Word or any other program, you have to create the fields for the other signatures and then email the document to the signatories so that they can follow the steps listed above to append their signature. With programs like word, the process may be a bit longer than with software that has been created specifically to support document sharing or apps intended to help sign documents online.
Sometimes though, the recipient may lose track of the email that they are supposed to sign. This will create a need for resending the document. By resending the email, the recipient can open the email and then insert their signature in the document.
The more convenient and efficient way to collect signatures is automated e-signature workflow. This is an automated process where document generation software works together with the signature software so that as part of the document generation process, the document is emailed to the signatories automatically and they receive a notification to sign. This can be done repeatedly for any document that requires signing.
The process of entering an esignature online is much easier than using Word or PDF. There are free apps that enable a user to sign a document in under two minutes. The free electronic signature provides the same options as other software to enter the signature. The electronic signature app encrypts the information to make sure that the document is not compromised.
To append a signature online, you simply need to drag and drop the document you want to sign in to the app and the signature field will automatically be entered on the document. You can then choose how you want to sign the document, either using your finger on a touch screen, uploading image file of the signature, or using the cursor. You can also type your name into the section. Most of these apps will provide instructions that make it easy to do it even for a first-timer.
Many people mistakenly use the two terms interchangeably, but they are quite different. An e-signature is a mark, writing, or even sound that indicates an individual's consent to sign an agreement. A digital signature on the other hand is used to authenticate the signature. It is a complex algorithm used to encrypt the signature.
A digital sign uses PKI technology to verify that a signature belongs to a specific individual. The PKI is med functional using digital certificates that are issued both privately and publicly. Digital signatures help to maintain the authenticity of a signature and prove that the person signing a document is really the intended signatory not someone with their key. Even when you use a free app, you will get a free digital signature.
Apart from the usual signature that most people are used to, there are other types of e signatures that are becoming common. These signatures still have legal regulations. The regulations include evidence that the signatory intended to sign and give their consent, there should be a trail that can be audited to show that is their signature and the data needs to be associated with the document. These signatures include:
Biometric Signature: This uses unique body features to identify an individual. The common biometric signatures include thumbprint, eye scan, and facial recognition.
BioSig-ID: This uses software to study the movement of an individual as they enter a 4-digit password using a stylus or a mouse. Each individual will have unique hand movements that will authenticate the signature.
Click to Sign: Here the person can simply click on a signature block and that will prove their consent. There should however be evidence they are aware of what they are doing and that they are indeed the intended signatory.
For many people thinking of using esigns for the first time, it is natural that they wonder: are electronic signatures legal? Well, the answer to that may depend on the country you live. For America, President Bill Clinton signed the E-SIGN Bill in June 2000, and that made an E-signature a legal signature. This is also supported by the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act.
Within the act are some requirements to be met for an e-signature to be recognized in a court of law or when carrying out a transaction and any other use of the signature. These requirements include:
Intent: It should be clear that the person intended to sign and had the option not to sign but chose to sign.
Consent: The person signing agreed to use this method of signing instead of signing on paper.
Attribution: There should be attribution of the signature connecting the person signing to that signature. For example, the command request signature in some apps will automatically add fields for email address, phone number, and other information that can be associated with the signatory. At times the IP address can be traced within the digital signature. Attribution is a way of authenticating a signature because It is assumed you are the only one with access to your email password or mobile phone so a private code can be sent to either of the 2.
Associate: The signature must be associated with the document. It should be evident that the signature was provided with the knowledge that the signature creator was agreeing to the content of the document.
These four conditions may seem hard to implement for an individual who is new to this, but most of the time, the signature maker will take care of that. Programs like Adobe Acrobat and other signature software are already designed to meet these requirements as they prompt a user to sign.
If you want to find out if these signatures are legally binding outside the US, you may need to run a country by country search, although the EU has similar acts governing them.
This is something many people wonder about. The simple answer is No. As stated above, the requirements for a signature to be legally binding do not include consistency. An electronic signature generator may apply a simple checkbox for the user to give their consent and then apply the other requirements to make that tick legally recognized as a signature while another may use a thumbprint.
In most situations, it is fine to use an electronic sign, but there are times when it would be best to use the old-fashioned paper and pen signature. In a situation like signing a birth certificate or adoption papers, it may be inconvenient to send signature requests to multiple witnesses who are probably right there in the room.
Also, not everyone would feel comfortable using this method which would make the signature invalid if they are forced to sign electronically.
Technology is everywhere and the internet links the entire globe. This would make it appropriate for just about every industry to adopt these signatures. However, here are some common utilization of them.
Online banking has become popular because of its convenience. Banks have introduced new products like the signature loan which simply depends on the signature of an applicant to grant them a loan. Banks can simply add esignature text tags that will make it easier to identify the client being granted a loan and they can sign from the comfort of their home and get the loan they need.
The health industry needs to gain consent from different people to attend to them, offer services under insurance cover as well as share information with patients and doctors. Running around with paper documents to have them signed can take up precious time. Working with an e-signature partner, however, will make it easier to get documents signed and enable the staff to carry out life-saving duties instead of worrying about consent and insurance.
When rallying to support social action or petitioning government. It is much faster to do signatures online. Document automation software can be used to create an online petition and email it to lots of recipients to append a pdf signature in support of the petition. This has been done in many states as lobbyists try to influence change. It is more convenient than knocking on doors.
E-commerce businesses transcend distance, so it is not uncommon to carry out business with clients across continents. There is still a need to get the consent of a client and to bind them contractually to the terms of service being provided. This means that they should sign a contract with the business. An electronic sign is the best option to achieve this. In this case, however, it is much more than a free e signature attached to a document. A digital signature and certificate will also be used to verify the user understands the terms of the contract and the information they share is encrypted and kept private.
Elderly and disabled people may not be physically capable of signing paper documents. For example, difficulty seeing, weak and painful joints that hinder writing, and inability to go to government offices to sign documents. It is much easier if they can create a signature and send it online.
There are many industries that can benefit from using this technology. The best part is you can even have a free electronic-signature for personal use not just as a business. Thousands of papers are being produced every day, and by adopting paperless signatures, we do not just make business efficient, we save the planet as well.