One of the first questions we get from business owners that call us is: “How much do electronic signatures cost?” It’s a tough question to answer because a lot of factors affect price in the electronic signature industry, but I’ll do my best to explain how it works.
Buying an electronic signature solution is kind of like buying a computer. You can buy a laptop from a discount store for only $78, but will it meet your needs? What if you need to watch a DVD, play games or edit photos? Well, you’re going to have to spend a little bit more.
It’s the same when you’re shopping for electronic signature services. You pay money for quality, and you need to make sure that you pick a service that will make you, your customers and your lawyers happy in the long run.
If you need signatures for an online petition, some of the cheaper options are probably a good fit for you. But if you’re working with transactions that could come under legal scrutiny, you need more security and legal evidence than cheap or free online signature services offer. Here are some important security features you might want to look for:
Anytime you do business online, you need to know who you're doing business with. Electronic signatures are no exception! If a signed document is challenged in court, you'll have to prove the signer’s identity.
High quality electronic signature vendors like SIGNiX offer a variety of identity authentication options. These choices let you customize the type of authentication based on the risk level of the transaction.
Here are some common identity authentication options along with the price range you should expect to pay for each type:
- Email Authentication: The signer confirms their identity by clicking a link to prove they have access to their email account. Cost: Free-$1
- Shared Secret Questions: Signers answer a question that you choose when you send the document. Common questions include the last four digits of an account number, the signer’s mother’s maiden name or other questions that help verify the signer’s identity. Cost: Free-$1
- Mobile Phone Authentication: The vendor sends a text message to the signer with a randomly generated code. The signer is authenticated when they enter the correct code into our signing interface. This method is great for customers looking for an inexpensive, multifactor authentication method that’s easy to use. Cost: $0.50-$1 per attempt
- Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA): The signer is prompted to enter their date of birth or social security number. If they correctly answer that question, they will have to answer a set of four questions based on a database of 30 years of public records. This is a well-known authentication method that pulls information from credit reports, public health records, town hall records and more. Cost: $1-$3 per attempt
An electronic signature is only as good as the security it uses. After all, what good is a contract if someone can easily tamper with it?
Some electronic signature services offer a feature called “tamper evidence.” If someone tries to change any part of the document (even something as simple as deleting a space or capitalizing a word) there’s proof that tampering took place.
The highest quality electronic signature services don’t just put one tamper-evident seal on the document; they put a seal on each signature on the document. This means that you can clearly see what the document looked like when each person signed it. Pretty neat, right?
Without a seal on each signature, someone could change the terms of an agreement after one person has signed, and there wouldn’t be any proof.
If you’re dealing with important documents or high-value transactions, advanced tamper evidence is vital. In fact, many banks and credit unions require this kind of tamper evidence to protect their customers.
Most online signature services meet the requirements set in the United States by state laws like UETA and the federal ESIGN Act. But other countries are pickier about what types of signatures they’ll accept.
Your business may not be international today, but you should think about your long-term needs. Once you pick an online signature service, some vendors make it hard for you to switch to a different service. If you think you might start doing business internationally down the road, it’s important to choose an electronic signature service that complies with international standards.
Many other countries require a type of electronic signature called an “advanced electronic signature” or “digital signature.” Digital signatures incorporate identity authentication and tamper evidence, among other features (here’s an article that goes into more detail about the types of e-signatures).
Other Factors that Affect Price
Here are some other factors that can impact how much an electronic signature service costs:
- Length of contract
- Number of users (Note: Look for pricing based on the number of users that are preparing and sending documents, not the number of signers.)
- Estimated number of transactions or document packages to be sent
- Estimated number of signers for each transaction
- Identity authentication needs (See this blog post to learn more about identity authentication.)
- Custom branding
- Custom email templates
- Integration with existing systems
As you can see, there are a lot of options available.
At SIGNiX, we’re dedicated to creating pricing options that meet your needs. Request a quote from us or check out our pricing options, and we will thoroughly examine your needs to create a plan that makes the most sense for your project.