It wasn’t that long ago that some people would use two pens: one with black ink for everyday stuff like writing notes and making annotations to documents, and another with blue ink for signatures. The belief was that the blue ink added a level of security to the document, and if a letter had a signature in black, it was a photocopy. This was an adequate system at the time, but not convenient or secure, especially when scanners and computers became commonplace.Fast forward to today, and many companies work with e-signature solutions to keep documents online and make workflows more efficient. Yet, many businesses are still clinging to the blue pen concept by using two different e-signature products—reserving one specifically for highly secure documents that meets necessary compliance standards, such as contracts or other legal or sensitive documents. Like the blue pen, this is based on an outdated understanding of how digital signature technology works. They think the “special” e-signature solution should be set aside for “special” treatment.
Though it seems obvious, why pay for two products when one will do? Yet, some still pay for two.
The good news is you don’t have to choose between an easy-to-use e-signature solution and one that meets the most stringent, legal and security requirements. The right platform can do both!
Here is what to look for so you have one e-signature solution that will work for all of your needs:
Digital Signatures versus Electronic Signatures
E-signature technology can vary greatly, but it’s helpful to begin by understanding the difference between digital and electronic signatures. While they can sound like the same thing, and some vendors may market them as if they were interchangeable, there are important distinctions. E-signatures are images placed on a document but not permanently attached or embedded into the signature field. As a result, the e-signed document cannot be verified without relying on the vendor. Digital signatures, on the other hand, are not dependent on an e-signature vendor for verification. Instead, digital signatures can be independently verified thanks to public key infrastructure, which uses public and private keys to both encrypt and validate documents. The signatures and the legal evidence, based on digital certificates, are embedded directly into the document. And that distinction can impact the safety, longevity, and defensibility of each signature and document, both online and offline.
Electronic signatures are also based on a vendor’s proprietary technology, which may not stand the test of time and may not always be accessible. Since the document’s validity is dependent on information stored on the vendor’s servers, an extra copy of confidential data and documents must be maintained and remain accessible, exposing the organization to legal and security risks.
Another important component to e-signature security is to ensure that all parties are who they say they are. Conveniently, there are a number of ways to authenticate the identities of signatories. On the simple end of this spectrum is an email verification link or a text message sent to the signer’s mobile device to verify his identity. On the other end is answering a series of questions based on public records going back up to three decades. Some platforms can also accommodate multi-factor authentication, allowing you to choose a combination of methods.
But security shouldn’t stop there. Look for a digital signature that includes a comprehensive audit trail, which gives you the evidence to legally verify an e-signature and includes detailed logs about every step of the signature process.
Ease of Use
Converting a business to a single e-signature solution provides an opportunity to simplify companywide workflows and ensure consistency across the enterprise. To get buy-in from both your company and your clients, you want a product that is easy to use, can integrate with your existing platforms, is mobile-friendly, can incorporate your branding and is purchased from a company that backs up its products with excellent customer service.
The era of using black and blue pens for safety is long gone. So too is the era of using more than one e-signature product. There’s no need to pay for two platforms that are only partly effective and give you half measures, when one e-signature solution can provide everything you need.
Again, when selecting the one e-signature for your business, you want one that will meet all requirements and compliance needs, while being flexible, secure and easy to use. Connect with us to learn why we’re the leading provider of cloud-based digital signatures in the U.S.