In any business, there are documents and contracts that must be signed by the business or its clients. Traditionally, these documents or contracts would need to be signed in person with an ink pen. When entities were far away from each other, these documents would need to be mailed, faxed, or otherwise sent to the other party for the signature and then returned.
In today’s world, everything is connected digitally. Most transactions are performed over a digital connection to allow for speedier transactions. However, when documents need to be signed, it can bring business to a halt waiting for papers to be sent, signed, and returned. Fortunately, digital signatures can allow a faster process to keep businesses moving at digital speeds.
What is a Digital Signature?
Digital signatures or e-signatures (electronic signatures) are a method to have documents signed digitally to allow quicker processing for businesses and other entities. Just as an ink signed signature is, an e-signature is legally binding and allows for quicker processing of important documentation. There are many software options for e-signatures to choose from to help process all important documentation.
Companies or other entities can easily send documents, contracts, or other important materials that need to be signed directly to the other party via the internet. The other party can safely and securely review the documentation and e-sign the paperwork in a matter of minutes. The sender is then informed of the signing and both parties retain a copy of the documents for personal records.
What are the Benefits of a Digital Signature?
For anyone who has had to sign paperwork for just about anything, they would have to either meet in person to go over the contracts and then sign or wait for the materials to be delivered. Mail and messenger services can be delayed. Meeting in person can also be difficult when there is a distance between the parties.
The main benefit of a digital signature is speed. The documentation can be sent to the recipient within minutes. This allows time to review the paperwork easily and sign or make adjustments without any delay. Once completed, the sender immediately has a copy of the signature. This allows for a faster turnaround and allows those entities to proceed with whatever the documents entailed.
Sending the paperwork digitally also minimizes the potential of the paperwork getting lost in delivery. In some cases, this loss could potentially expose confidential information that could be harmful to either party. Sending the documentation digitally allows for a speedier and safer transaction.
How can a Digital Signature Benefit Businesses?
One of the most valuable resources of a business is time. This is the biggest benefit of utilizing digital signatures. Contracts for work orders or transactions of the business can be quickly completed to allow the business to continue with production or another process that could be delayed by waiting for the mail to deliver important documentation.
There are also major savings that a business could benefit from by using e-signatures. Traditionally, any important documents would need to be created, printed, packaged, and then securely shipped to the recipient. All these steps cost. Although the costs may not be significant for a single document, if the business regularly requires such transactions, the costs could be quite high. E-signatures eliminate much of that cost.
Businesses will even save office space by using digital signatures. No longer will paper contracts need to be filed and stored in the office after signing. With the e-signature process, all documentation is digital and can be kept safely and securely within the company’s computer system instead of taking up valuable office space.
Paper documents are also less secure than their digital counterparts. If the company’s documents are secured on the business’s computer system, only authorized individuals can access those materials. However, paper documents that are stored around the office or even in files are harder to ensure no spying eyes see the information or even take home sensitive materials.
Paper documents are also vulnerable in other ways. Paper can be subject to damage from overhandling. Dampness and time can also wear out the paper and leave the documents unable to be properly read or even used in cases of disputes.
If a company is using a digital signature service, they can be confident in knowing that every part of the document is complete and properly signed. Often, contracts and other documents require initials and confirmations in various parts of the document. The digital program will ensure that the other party fully completed the document before they can submit it.
With a paper copy, the recipient may miss sections of the document and return it without the proper endorsements or confirmations in the various parts. If it is identified, it then must be returned for proper signage. If it is not identified, it can be a major problem if complications arise and the document is needed. The other party may be able to get out of any obligations due to the incomplete paperwork.
Are Digital Signatures Safe?
Digital signatures and their accompanying documentation are very safe and secure. The software programs utilize encryption technology so that only the sender and the recipient have access to the documents. Once completed, the documents can be safely and securely stored by both parties to ensure third parties do not have access to the information.
Digital signatures are safe in their authenticity as well. The documentation is sent on a secure server that ensures only the proper person can access the materials. This ensures that the right person is reading and signing. This eliminates the potential of imposters sending false information or even tampering with files. Businesses can be confident that all signatures are authentic.
Digital signatures are also safe because they are as legally binding as an ink signature. In some cases, it may be more binding than the ink when considering the potential for mistakes that are not caught by the signing program.
The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) guarantees that all electronic transactions are just as enforceable as their paper counterparts. This ensures that no party can get out of their obligations set out in the documentation simply because it was signed electronically.
As the world moves more towards being completely digital, it is important that businesses stay with the trends to prevent being left behind. Acquiring a secure digital signature program will help companies move into the digital realm without changing their business practices, only improving them.