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Remote Online Notarization Is Here To Stay

How COVID-19 Helped Demonstrate the Value of RON 

 

Digitally based remote online notarization (RON) has gained ground steadily over the last several years and is now available in more than 40 states via legislation or executive order. 

  

Not only is RON more convenient and affordable than its predecessor, it is also more effective at protecting against fraud.  

 
COVID-19's impact on businesses and the economy has highlighted the benefits of RON, reigniting the push for its adoption across the nation. 

 

The New Normal 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way millions of Americans do business. Long after restrictions have been lifted and our nation regains some sense of normalcy, many of the processes and guidelines U.S. workers and businesses adopted during the crisis will remain as permanent fixtures of our commerce and communities.

 

While many of the changes have required significant flexibility and understanding from all involved, many have also provided valuable opportunities for increased efficiency and innovation. 

 

For example, our large, nationwide shift toward remote working has not only positively impacted how countless employees collaborate on projects and participate in meetings, but it has also helped to streamline how many companies and employees share files, store documents, and complete other important tasks. 

 

One of those tasks directly — and positively — affected by COVID-19 has been notarization. 

 

RON Is Here to Stay 

 

For decades, all notarizations required paper documents, pen-and-ink signatures, and rubber stamp notary seals. Most importantly, every one of these transactions required the signer to appear physically in person before a notary, resulting in added costs, delays, and inconvenience. 

 
In 2011, Virginia became the first state to formally recognize — and legalize — the convenience and cost-saving benefits of RON, which lets businesses and consumers obtain electronic seals from notaries online anywhere at any time without physically meeting them. 

 
Eventually, several groups, including the American Land Title Association (ALTA), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the Electronic Signature and Records Association (ESRA), and the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), followed Virginia’s lead and crafted model RON legislation. Since then, 23 additional states have enacted their own versions of RON legislation, and in March 2020bipartisan federal legislation —  known as the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (or the “SECURE Act”) — was introduced that would authorize all of the nation’s notaries to perform RON across state lines. 

 

Whether the SECURE ACT is enacted or not, the usefulness of RON during a crisis like COVID-19 — as well as the increasing support for RON by countless businesses, individuals, and states before, during, and after the pandemic — should ensure that the popularity and adoption of the technology will only grow as part of our “new normal.” 

 

Opposition to RON 

 

Prior to COVID-19, numerous mortgage lenders and title underwriters dragged their feet in accepting RON. Both groups had concerns regarding potential fraud associated with the technology, as well as fears associated with interstate recognition and legal jurisdiction. They had concerns, for example, about what would happen if a notary was in one state, a property was in another state, and the signer was in yet another state and then a problem later occurred. 

 

Legislators, too, were wary of RON. Many weren’t seeing or hearing about a big need for it, which kept it from getting on their agendas. When they did hear about it, they heard from both supporters and detractors, which made sorting out the truth a bit difficult. The complexity of the technology didn’t help, either, and what legislators did understand about RON sounded risky. 
 
While many people were open to change, they also had concerns about the potential legal and security issues those changes would bring. They were hesitant to make such a bold change unless all of those issues had been addressed. 

 

In more practical terms, many people who need something notarized want to get it done without a hassle. For many of them, learning about RON or actually using the technology is seen as a nuisance or a waste of time when they could just use the local notaries they’ve been using for decades.  

 

Unless they can’t. 

 

COVID-19 has caused roadblocks for all kinds of notary-dependent transactions. Once major opponents of RON, countless lenders and underwriters now see the technology as an indispensable tool for doing business in this era of uncertainty — and beyond. 

 

Legislators, seeing more and more of their colleagues pass RON legislation and more and more of their constituents singing the technology’s praises, have increasingly thrown their support behind it, as well.  Governors have also used Executive Orders to speed up the process of making RON available quickly 

 

For those still on the fence about RON, it might be helpful to provide a quick overview of how and why it works. 

 

How RON Works 

 

RON is essentially the equivalent of in-person, paper-based notarization, except that every step is conducted online: 

 

1. The notary sets up the transaction, including uploading all documents that need to be signed and notarized, and schedules a video conference with the signer(s).  2. Each signer takes a photo of both sides of their driver's license or passport, enters the last four digits of their social security number, and then answers a series of knowledge-based authentication questions. 

 3. The notary verifies the signer’s identity by knowledge-based authentication (KBA) and electronic analysis of identification credentials.  

 

 4. The online notary appears in person before the signer in real time via two-way audio-video technology.

 

 5. The signer electronically signs the documents, and the notary electronically notarizes the documents by attaching an electronic notary seal and digital certificate. 

 

6. The notarized documents are emailed to all participants in the transaction.

 

7. Video footage of the transaction and other related authentication data are saved in the notary’s electronic journal, along with information about the signer and a copy of the notarized documents. 

 

The entire process often lasts just a few minutes.

 

Why Ron Works 

 

Not only can RON save people and businesses considerable time and hassle, it also provides a level of security and cost savings unmatched by traditional notarization services. 

 

Security Benefits 

 

  • The identity authentication associated with RON is more reliable than the authentication utilized by many paper-based notaries. Technology is used to ensure the integrity of the identity document instead of a quick glance by a notary
  • While many people have had a document notarized without being there to witness the notarization or the notary witnessing the signature, the signer must be on camera with RON.(In other words, for those people looking to commit fraud, RON is a terrible way to do it!)   
  • Documents cannot be altered once notarized using RON. The same can’t be said for paper documents that are notarized 
  • With RON, all stored documents and transaction footage is encrypted.
  • RON protects notaries who would otherwise visit a stranger’s residence, as well as the residents who would have to be visited by a notary. This is especially useful during a pandemic, as well as for protecting against bad actors. 

Cost Savings 

  • It can cost between $150 and $250 if you have to pay a notary to travel.Using RON instead can save you a considerable amount of money.
  • Using RON can save a title agency a small fortune when paper costs are considered. For example, the cost of RON is generally less than half the cost of purchasing and processing the paper, including photocopying/printing, scanning, printer paper, faxing, postage, distributing, storage, document retrieval, document backup, and many, many more. This doesn’t even consider the cost of the traditional notary

Why Choose SiGNIX? 

 

Not only do we have extensive experience with real estate transactions and the creation of digital signatures based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) requirements, but we’ve also performed more digital signatures than any other U.S. company over the last decade.  

 

Our patented eNotaryDoX platform allows notaries and companies that employ notaries to do their own work. Our straightforward pricing provides customers with significantly better value than our competition — with no surprises or nickel-and-diming — and we offer responsive customer support via phone and email. 

 

We know that your business' needs are as unique as you are, and we don't want to force you into a cookie-cutter pricing plan. Click here to get a no-obligation quote from one of our RON specialists. 

 

Click here to learn more about RON