Electronic signatures have been recognized as a legally binding form of authentication since 2000. Despite this, many internet users are still unfamiliar with it. Are you on the fence about using e-signatures, and want to be sure that they’re a safe, hassle-free option? You might have a lot of questions about them, including whether they’re licit, when you can use them and how to use them. Well, let us answer all these questions for you!
What’s an e-signature?
An e-signature (electronic signature) is any form of electronic data (be it an electronic sound, process, or symbol) that can legally be used to sign a document or form. It acts as a replacement for a handwritten signature. According to the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN), sanctioned by Congress in 2000, e-signatures are considered to be legally binding.
What are the benefits of e-signatures?
Since the acceptance of digital signatures as a legally binding authentication method, signing documents has become much simpler and more convenient for many people.
Before the invention of this signing method as a means of digital verification, signing a document and handing it in somewhere was a lengthy process. Contracts had to be signed, then shipped, faxed, or scanned, before finally being filed. This four-step signing process has now been simplified to a few simple buttons.
On the whole, it’s a cheaper, more reliable, efficient, and faster method of verification. Let’s explore some of the specific advantages that e-signatures bring to the table.
Of course, one of the first questions that people have, when they hear the term e-signature, is ‘is it legally binding’? The answer for the most part is yes! E-signatures are legally binding in the United States, 30 European countries (every country in the European Union), and many other countries in the world. According to the E-sign act by the U.S Congress, electronic records can be used to satisfy any regulation, statute, or law as long as the consumer has consented to such use previously. And thanks to UETA (Uniform Electronic Transactions Act), a United States Uniform Act, adopted by 48 states, wet signatures and electronic signatures are now considered to be legally equivalent.
The use of e-signatures makes the transaction process between people and companies significantly faster. Signers no longer need to take time out to manually sign, scan and print a legal document. E-signatures also abolish the waiting time that would otherwise be required to manually archive it as well as wait to verify if the document has been signed by the right second party. With e-signatures, it takes just a few clicks of your mouse for signatories to digitally make binding agreements. This saves time on contract creation, allows flexibility in where the signer is and when they can sign, which speeds up your workflow dramatically!
Another perk of e-signatures? They are super cost-effective! In the past, with physical copies of legal documents, there were an abundant amount of costs that needed to be covered. From material expenses (the paper, the toner, the ink) to the administrative costs (sending and receiving the document by shipping or mailing). While these costs do not seem staggering, they add up and negatively impact your revenue. So it’s a cost-effective option to swap over to e-signatures. With the e-signature solution, all you need is a mobile device to sign the electronic documents.
What are e-signatures used for?
Another question that you might have about e-signatures is what exactly can you use them for? Well, that’s what we’re going to cover now. Here are some of the specific uses of e-signatures, in detail to clarify any confusion.
Sales & Marketing
E-signatures can be used in sales transactions and marketing to speed up the process. For things like vendor onboarding, delivery agreements, marketing service agreements. You no longer have to wait on others and go through the long, tiring process of manually signing documents. Closing deals has never been easier!
This helps ease the process of hiring for both the employee and employer. For the potential employee, not having to deal with as much paperwork, and being able to simply scan an image of your signature or something of the sort is an appealing option. It’s also a lot easier for the employer to organize and file through online forms.
E-signatures are a real blessing for legal processes. They help speed up the entire procedure. To have access to all the important forms digitally, and be able to organize them in whatever way is easiest, rids you of unnecessary hassles. There are many options available for arranging and storing files, such as Google Drive, or in the form of a pdf document on a hard drive, etc.
Electronic signature FAQs
Still a little confused about the e-signing process? Hopefully, we can clear those up by answering some popular questions that people are asking about them.
Is it secure to use electronic signatures to sign documents?
A simply put, one-word answer to this question, is yes. But if you need a little extra assurance, let’s dive into the specifics. In reality, electronic signatures are more secure than wet signatures. They cannot be forged or tampered with - e-signatures have many layers of security built into them, making it near impossible to counterfeit them. Not to mention how they also have an electronic record that acts as an audit trail. Most e-signatures also come with a digital certificate of completion as proof.
What is the legal difference between a person’s initials and signature?
In simple terms, the difference between a person’s initials and signature is that a person’s initials are not considered to be legally binding, while a signature is. By initialing a legal document, you are showing that you have indeed read the terms, but it does not prove that you have agreed to them. Signing a legal document, on the other hand, be it a wet signature or an e signature, shows that you have read and agree with the terms written on the contract or document, and will uphold them.
Can a person have more than one type of signature?
Legally, a signature is defined as a ‘mark or sign made by an individual to signify acceptance or obligation’, with that in mind, it is possible for a person to change their signatures. As long as they use only one type of signature to deal with one entire legal process. That means, they can have a different one, for say, dealing with a business transaction, and a different one for signing a contract. However, for identification and authentication purposes, it is advised to use only one signature.
What if someone can no longer write his or her signature?
If someone is unable to write their signature for any number of reasons (be it a medical condition or disability,), there are other ways for them to authenticate a legal document. E-signatures can be done by electronic sounds, thumbprints, or even a simple click in some cases. Different electronic signature software have various e-signing processes, and almost all of them offer alternate methods to simply signing your name.
Does my online signature have to be identical to my handwritten signature?
The answer to this: no, and here’s why. According to the Esign act we previously mentioned, an e-signature can be ‘an electronic sound, symbol, process attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record and be legally bound.’ depending on what platform or software you are using to sign a document electronically, a different signature may have to be adopted, and they do not have to match your handwritten signature.
How Portal makes e-signatures easy
Nowadays, not only is e-signing becoming a more popular means of verification for businesses, but online platforms that facilitate this action are also on the rise. One of the best platforms in the market right now? Portal! It gives clients access to features like file sharing, payments, messages, billing, storage, and of course, E-signatures, from one central platform. Portal is a secure platform with a CRM that allows you to build meaningful relationships with your clientele. And this is how it works:
Prepare a document for signing
The first step is to prepare the legal document that needs to be signed. Whether it's a contract or transaction agreement, the process of writing it is the same as it would be when dealing with a physical document. Contracts can be drafted and saved as pdf files.
Send documents to sign
Your client gets an in-product notification and email notification notifying them that there is an eSignature request. The client submits their information.
Sign your document
Both parties get an email and in-product notification confirming that the eSignature request is completed. The PDF document now has a green circle in front of it (indicating that the document has been eSigned) and downloading or previewing the document will show an audit trail page at the end.
E-signatures are remarkable advancements in the modern world and business technology. They make document signing easier, faster, and more efficient for businesses. And with platforms like Portal, which are designed to make the process smoother, there are no real disadvantages to using electronic signatures for legal documents, and plenty of benefits.
Portal is a great alternative to platforms like Google Drive, DropBox, Docusign, Adobe sign. With Portal, you can get everything done with just one application. The best part? Portal is highly secure and comes with automation options so large companies can enjoy seamless workflows. Go ahead and check Portal’s competitive pricing plans today!