With the rise of asynchronous communication, more organizations now recognize electronic signatures as a formal means of authorizing documents. E-signatures are more convenient than their traditional counterparts, allowing you to approve agreements on the go; without being in the same environment as the other parties.
If you’re still not sold on the idea of using e-signatures for agreements, then you should read this article to the end. Here, we’d discuss different types of e-signatures you can use for your business, and how to collect digital signatures with Formplus.
An electronic signature or e-signature is an electronic sign or symbol that serves as a formal authorization for agreement, contracts, and approvals. Typically, electronic signatures are equivalent to an individual’s physical signature and can be termed “legally binding” on the person(s) in question.
With the increased popularity of remote work and virtual transactions, more people now adopt electronic signatures as a means of identity accreditation and contract-binding. This means appending your electronic signature on a document bears the same weight as signing a document physically.
Based on the degree of complexity and security, we can identify three types of electronic signatures, namely:
This is the most common type of electronic signature and it involves attaching a generated signature image or scanned signature to a document for formal authorization. For example, you receive a document requiring your signature. So, you quickly go into your photos or images, choose a picture of your signature and add it to the document. Voila! The document is authorized.
The problem here is there’s little or no way to make sure the appended signature matches the physical signature of the recipient. Also, it is extremely easy for the person who signed the document to feign ignorance of the entire process.
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Unlike the simple electronic signature, advanced electronic signatures require verification or authentication before they can be recognized as the legal authorization of the person who signed the document. If you’re using an advanced electronic signature, you’d need to use a verification app on your smartphone to authenticate your signature on any documents before it can be deemed legal.
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QES or Qualified Advances Electronic Signature adds a third layer of verification to the signature authentication process. After using a mobile application to verify your signature, you’d go ahead to secure the electronic validation of the signature by a third-party Trust Service Provider (TSP). This means that the third party formally validates the signature on the document and confirms that everything is in place.
The specific laws on electronic signatures differ from one country to another, so you have to research to discover how it works in your location. However, in the United States and thirty European countries, electronic signatures are legally binding and have the same effect as physically appending your signature on a form.
In countries where electronic signatures are legally binding, it is expected that the signature passes three tests:
The Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation of the European Union (eIDAS) is the comprehensive regulation for electronic signatures in Europe. If you live in the United States, the legality of all electronic signatures is subject to the ESIGN Act on a federal level. There’s also the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
Let’s look at an overview of how these regulations apply to you.
The eIDAS Regulation is Regulation (EU) 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market. eIDAS covers a range of services pertaining to the verification of electronic documents and e-signatures in Europe.
Specifically, eIDAS ensures that legally binding digital signatures authorize all electronic business transactions within the EU. It does this by spelling out the standards for e-signature recognition, especially for cross-border transactions.
Signed into law in 2000, the ESIGN act covers the validity and enforceability of electronic signatures in commercial transactions. Typically, this law works with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) introduced in 1999.
The UETA provides that:
According to both laws, an electronic signature must meet the following requirements before it is deemed valid:
You can learn more about the ESIGN Act and UETA here.
Despite the wide acceptance of electronic and digital signatures, they do not suffice for all types of documents. The ESIGN act or other relevant regulation in your country would clearly spell out exempt documents, so you can have them at the back of your mind during transactions.
In the United States, the following documents require physical signatures.
In South Africa, The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 exempts the following documents from any type of electronic signatures:
A simple electronic signature can be forged or copied easily because it does not require any additional verification before it’s termed valid. However, it is nearly impossible to forge an advanced electronic signature or a qualified advanced electronic signature. These signatures have layers of security and authentication built into them, which makes it extremely difficult for anyone to falsify them.
With the increased digitization of every global industry, it’s hard to see a company that doesn’t use electronic signatures to authorize formal transactions. As long as you send and receive documents via the internet, you’d require electronic signatures one way or the other.
In e-commerce, for instance, electronic signatures are used to authorize online transactions and contracts between businesses and their clients. For example, in your e-commerce order forms, you can ask customers to append their e-signature on the form to validate their orders.
If you work in advertising, you can use your e-signature to endorse contracts between your agency and clients without being in the same physical environment. Other industries that require electronic signatures include:
Formplus has more than thirty basic and advanced fields that you can add to your survey easily—one of them is the e-signature field. Here’s how you can collect electronic signatures from respondents right in your form!
Step 1: Log into your Formplus account. If you don’t have a Formplus account, you can sign up for a free one here.
Step 2: On your dashboard, choose the “create new form.” This takes you to the Formplus builder.
Step 3: On the left side of the builder, you’d see different fields, including text fields, rating fields, and numerical fields. Click on “advanced inputs” and select “signature.” You can also drag and drop this field into your form.
Step 4: Complete the form setup to get your survey or questionnaire ready for use.
There you have it! Now, respondents can easily append their signatures to your forms to validate transactions. All received signatures are stored as image files in the Formplus servers or your preferred cloud storage system.
An electronic signature is a mark or symbol that shows a person agrees to a contract or the content of a document. On the other hand, a digital signature is an electronic signature captured through an eSignature software using special encryption. It uses an audit trail and encrypted digital certificate to verify both the document and the signees to a contract.
E-signatures do not have additional layers of encryption and verification, unlike digital signatures. Typically, digital signature validation is performed by trusted certificate authorities or trust service providers, so it is usually authorized.
An electronic signature can be a symbol, sign, or image that shows a person consents to the terms of a contract, document, or agreement. On the other hand, a digital signature can be an encrypted electronic fingerprint that verifies a person’s identity.
Specifically, digital signatures secure the integrity of your data, so they are used for authorizing more sensitive documentation and online interactions. On the flip side, electronic signatures are used mainly in simple contracts and agreements, such as validating business orders and client policy terms and agreements.
E-signatures can accelerate your team’s productivity, significantly; helping you to close deals on time. Wondering how to get started with digital signatures? Try out the e-signature field on Formplus today!
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