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What are Electronic Signatures and How do they Work?

Posted 30th July 2021

Effective digitisation is the foundation of any progressive, forward-thinking business. When everything is moving online, why shouldn’t your signature? With a digital signature solution, you can free your business from inefficient and outdated administrative tasks and the constraints of handwritten ‘wet’ signatures.

Electronic signature solutions are cost-effective, secure digital signatures designed to streamline time-consuming administrative tasks and significantly reduce turnaround times on time-sensitive documents such as contracts, agreements, and policy documents.

Hear from Luke Garrett, Head of Digital Transformation, on the benefits of electronic signatures.

 

In essence an Electronic Signature is a collective of data used to identify and verify a signee. It is not a digitised version of your handwritten signature, it’s much more complex and secure.

 

Why Are Digital Signatures Important?

As more and more business is conducted online and digitally, contracts, agreements, legal documents and transactions that were once signed on paper and distributed physically are now being replaced with fully digital documents and workflows. Businesses must be able to validate and authenticate that these important business documents, data and communications are trusted and distributed securely to reduce the risk of document tampering by malicious parties.

In addition to safeguarding valuable online information, digital signatures do not disrupt the efficiency of online document workflows, in fact, they typically help improve and create better efficiencies in document management compared to paper processes. Once digital signatures have been implemented, the act of signing a document is easy and can be done on any digital device. The digital signature is portable as it is incorporated in the file itself, wherever it is transmitted and on whatever device. Electronically signed documents are also easy to monitor and keep track of by providing the status of all documents, identifying whether they’ve been signed, and viewing an audit trail.

 

Common Uses Of Digital Signatures

Today, digital signatures are frequently used for an array of various online documents in order to improve the efficiency and security of crucial business transactions that are now paperless, including:

 

Contracts and legal documents: Like their handwritten counterparts in the offline world, electronic signatures are 100% legally binding and admissible in court, indicating the signer’s intent to agree to the content of a document or a set of data to which the signature relates.

Sales agreements: By digitally signing contracts and sales agreements, both the seller and the buyer identities are authenticated, and both parties have peace of mind that the signatures are legally binding and that the terms and conditions of the agreement have not been altered.

Financial documents: Financial departments digitally sign invoices so that customers trust the payment request is coming from the appropriate seller, not from someone trying to scam the buyer into sending payment to a fraudulent account.

Healthcare data: In the healthcare industry, data privacy is paramount for both patient records and research data. Digital signatures ensure that this sensitive information has not been altered when shared between consenting parties.

Government forms: Government departments have stricter guidelines and regulations compared to many private sector businesses. From approving permits to clocking in on a timesheet, digital signatures streamline productivity by ensuring that the right employee is involved for the appropriate approvals.

Shipping documents: For manufacturers, ensuring cargo manifests or bill of lading are always accurate helps reduce costly shipping errors. Physical paperwork is awkward, isn’t always easily accessed in transit, and can be lost. By digitally signing shipping documents, shippers and receivers can access a file promptly, verify that the signature is up to date and confirm that no tampering has occurred.

 

How Secure Is An Electronic Signature?

Electronic Signatures are, in effect, far more secure than their traditional ‘wet signature’ counterpart. With multiple forms of security and verification, digital signatures like those at E-Sign are revolutionising the way businesses work.

Security is at the forefront of any Electronic Signature and the process behind the signature is state of the art. E-Sign have one of the most comprehensive digital security systems in place providing clients with peace of mind that their documents have the utmost protection.

An electronic signature from E-Sign is a lot more than just a digitalised version of your handwritten signature. E-sign’s incredibly secure platform means that all their digital signatures are 100% verifiable, backed by a Digital Signature Certificate, traceable audit trail, unique digital fingerprint, and digital identification. E-Sign’s platform and website are 100% secure via 256bit SSL encryption, meaning your data is protected and your signatures are fully legal and valid.

 

Email-Based Authentication

E-Sign provides email authentication, ensuring only those who can sign a document have access via invitation by the sender.

SMS Authentication

Signers receive a one-time passcode via SMS that they must enter before they are allowed access to the documents.

Real Time ID Verifications

Using a feature called E-Sign iD-Checker, passport and/or driving licence verification checks can be completed to give you peace of mind.

E-Sign ID-Checker

E-Sign ID-Checker is integrated into the E-Sign platform and Users running the check have to have an E-Sign account. They can run a check without the requirement to sign documents. Personal details are screened against a host of positive and negative datasets from a global ID database allowing you to verify clients to eliminate the risk of fraud.

This is achieved by checking:

  • – UK and International passports
  • – GB Driving Licenses
  • – Mortality register
  • – UK credit header
  • – Age
  • – Address checks.

The Benefits Of Electronic Signatures

Whilst Electronic signatures are now becoming an everyday occurrence there is still some uncertainty from some businesses, however, the benefits far out way any hesitancy.

  1. Increased security: Compared to traditional ‘wet’ signatures, electronic signatures are far more secure with multiple verifications and authentications.
  2. International use: No matter who your clients/customers are located, most are familiar with digital signatures, and prefer the convenience of signing a document right from their pc, phone or tablet.
  3. Document tracking: Easily track who has opened, signed, or approved a document, and who is holding you up. You’ll have a complete paper trail of who viewed the document and when, without the actual paper!
  4. Fast and Efficient: Collect signatures and approvals on multiple documents at one time without printing a single page of paper.
  5. Enhanced experiences for customers: Sign from anywhere, on any device. In a time where everyone wants real-time access to documents, connecting your digital signature solution to your clients is a necessity.
  6. Get paid faster: Request a signature and payment details on the same document and securely collect all the information you need, including the payment.
  7. Go totally Paperless: When you combine your digital signature solution with other tools you already use, there’s no need for printing, scanning, or meeting in person. The signed document is initiated and returned to the same location and you get notified when all parties sign.
  8. Save money and time: Whilst a digital signature has many benefits the overriding factor for many businesses is saving time and money. From reducing paper and printing costs to reducing the amount of time it takes to sign and collect payment from clients, electronic signatures and document transactions are a must for forward thinking businesses.

 

Why Use E-Sign As Your Trusted Electronic Signature Provider?

Finding a trusted provider to deliver what you need when it comes to electronic and digital signatures is easy. E-Sign have worked tirelessly with multiple agencies to ensure their certifications and accreditations are of the highest standards.

E-Sign is the only electronic signature provider trusted on the Public Service Network. The PSN is the UK Government’s high-performance network, which enables public sector organisations to work together, reduce duplication and share resources.

 

“The University of Oxford have appointed E-Sign UK Ltd. as their preferred electronic signature platform.  The rise of remote working through the Covid-19 pandemic created a real need to complete many complicated agreements remotely and E-Sign were selected to provide a solution.  E-Sign quickly guided departments on the most cost-effective and efficient route offered, providing continued support to ensure contracts were completed and deadlines met.”

Purchasing Department- University of Oxford

 

True advanced e-Signature

E-Sign provides a unique advanced electronic signature with ‘QR’ technology, which provides businesses with signature validation and enhanced security. We don’t use pictures of handwritten signatures at E-Sign. An advanced electronic signature is defined by statute and the DTI in the UK recommends electronic signatures as more reliable than using pen and paper.

Fast and user friendly

E-Sign is designed to be as fast and simple as hand signing with the addition of instant delivery, unquestionable unique security and safe long-term storage with instant access.

Personal & secure ‘Digital ID’

Each time a document is signed a unique signature is created for that person and that document. When you sign your next document, the advanced electronic signature creates another unique signature linking you and that document. A QR Code is created to enable the signatories to the document to access it instantly, simply scan or click the QR Code and the service takes you to the original document. If you ask for additional information about signatories (copy passport, driving licence or sock colour!) that information also becomes part of the signature.

Integrated with your existing workflow

If you can attach your file to an email you can sign with E-Sign. Whether you use Google Docs, Word, Pages, Excel or any other application (PDFs, video, pictures, diagrams) you can upload your file for signature. We don’t force any application upon you; simply use your existing applications and sign with E-Sign. For a seamless integration organisations can use our API or GUI to merge into their workflow and brand the service with their own logo.

Chase up your clients

The dashboard keeps you up to date with what you’ve signed, what is pending signature, what has been sent to you for signing and the documents you’ve uploaded. All your latest activity is listed and you can decide to chase pending documents to keep the workflow moving.

Full audit trail

The full audit trail within E-Sign keeps you informed of who has opened a document, signed and returned or rejected a document for signature. You can monitor progress from uploading your file to completion of the signature with the audit trail on your dashboard.

 

Try E-Sign for Yourself

If you want to experience the power of E-Sign for yourself, why not try out our 14-day free trial. Once you’ve gone digital, you’ll never want to go back to inefficient paper-based signatures again.

 

E-Sign is a leading provider of digital transaction management solutions, supplying professional services including Electronic Signatures, Web Forms, ID Checker, Verification Tools, Personalised Emails, API and Payment Processing to businesses of all sizes across the UK.

 

To find out more about our E-Sign solutions and how they could transform your business, get in touch with us today.