We’ve been relying on pen and paper signatures for centuries, even dating back to the founding the United States. It’s an easy and effective way to authenticate someone’s identity and therefore express consent. But in today’s digital age, how do we harness the power of technology to replicate the authority of a handwritten signature?
Yes, you can still print, sign and file a physical copy of a digital document, or copy and paste an image of a signature onto your document. But neither of these processes fit fluidly with digital workflows. In fact, both can be jarring speedbumps as we strive toward streamlining workflows.
That’s where electronic signatures come into play. Electronic signatures, or e-signatures, are a key piece to the digital transformation puzzle, helping companies complete remote, domestic, and cross-border agreements at unprecedented rates.
As electronic signatures come of age, here’s what you need to know about using them:
E-signed Documents Can Be Legally Binding. Legislation has passed in the United States (UETA and eSign), the European Union (eIDAS) and many developed countries, recognizing the validity of an e-signature. These rulings have helped pave the way for e-signatures to be valid under law, including requirements for the level of e-signature you are permitted to use for certain scenarios. With the exception of a few special situations, e-signatures are legally admissible in courts.
Both the US and the EU practice an open-technology approach, meaning there’s no law requiring the usage of specific signing technology for producing legally binding e-signatures. PhantomPDF is tightly integrated with DocuSign, a leading e-signature solution, for signing PDF forms.
Sign Anywhere, Anytime. One of the biggest hassles of pen and paper signatures is the inevitable tedium of moving paperwork – or worse, paperwork getting lost. E-signatures greatly simplify the process. You can sign a document electronically no matter where you are. All you need is an internet connection and access to a computer, laptop, or mobile device.
For many businesses, this level of efficiency is hugely valuable because there’s no need to wait on paperwork when closing a deal. You can complete time-sensitive agreements on the spot without asking customers to engage in extensive paper processes that risk slowing down, or even losing a sale.
Faster, Automated Document Processes. Obtaining a handwritten signature can often hold up a complex and time-sensitive process such as a business deal—and no one wants that. E-signatures makes it so much easier to get authorization from all parties. Rather than waiting on physical papers to arrive, you can electronically sign the document as soon as it hits your inbox. Your e-signature immediately triggers the next step in the process.
Customizing and printing a document for every transaction is a time-consuming process. Document workflow automation instantly generates a customized copy that can be quickly e-signed by a counterparty, all based on an internal legal template.
Save Time and Money. Automated document processes powered by e-signatures minimize the manual steps involved in signing a contract. You can rely on e-signing to execute contracts in a snap. There’s no need to wait for printed documents to travel around the country, or around the world. It’s all done instantly on a computer or mobile device.
Signing documents electronically not only eliminates manual steps, but also saves a great deal of money. Consider both the monetary and environmental costs of paper, ink and physical transport. The practice adds up quickly if you process a lot of documents. You can avoid all those expenses altogether by using e-signed agreements.
Improved Security. Digitized paper processes leave behind an auditable trail. This goes for electronic signatures too, giving you a clear view of when and where a document was signed – and exactly who signed it.
Electronic signatures are logged throughout the document process and can be fully archived – so you can actively track the process and refer back to completed transactions. In contrast to paperwork signed in print, risk in losing track of agreements that are e-signed remain minimal.