Nowadays, everything is online: from shopping to finding a job. With this shift towards a digital world, the online signature has become the norm. Whether you realize it or not, it’s already part of your daily life and there’s no doubt it’s the future of business.
Signing documents electronically speeds-up transactions and gets business done quicker. What’s more, it gives everyone the freedom and flexibility to sign whenever they want, no matter where they are, perfectly adapting to a modern way of life.
So, what’s an online signature? That’s what you’ll find out in this article, along with the different types of signatures, and the reasons online signatures have taken the business world by storm.
Why do we even use signatures?
The main reasons for using a signature today are to identify oneself as the author of a document (this can be anything from a scientific report to a birthday card) or to give consent to an agreement between two or more parties.
Types of signatures
There are many types of signatures, each with a different level of security and different characteristic. Depending on what is being signed, you may wish to choose one form over another. In some circumstances, you might be asked to use a specific type of signature.
For simplicity, we can divide them into 3 types:
- Wet signatures
These are the traditional signatures. ‘Wet’ refers to the ink used when you sign your name with a pen. However, it’s not limited to handwritten signatures, as it also includes other traditional forms of signing such as wax seals, that were particularly popular in Asia.
- Electronic signatures
These are also known as e-signatures and come in different forms. It could be a scanned copy of your handwritten signature, for instance, or a signature you created online with a drawing tool. It doesn’t always look like your name in handwriting though, a signature generator can also create a signature from your initials or printed name.
- Digital signatures
Digital signatures can sometimes be confused with electronic signatures, but they aren’t the same. Digital signatures contain code that identifies the owner of a unique digital certificate which is created for every digital signature,, and they have been approved by a regulatory body.
What is an electronic signature?
An electronic signature fulfills the same purpose as a handwritten signature, it’s simply a digital version. Handwritten signatures are gradually being replaced by this new electronic format, in every aspect of our lives.
This is how the European Commission describes them:
‘Like its handwritten counterpart in the offline world, an electronic signature can be used, for instance, to electronically indicate that the signatory has written the document, agreed with the content of the document, or that the signatory was present as a witness.’
In a digital world, where most business is carried out electronically, it’s not surprising that the need for digital signing systems was born, and they’ve been spreading at lightning speed in both the private and public sectors.
We’re constantly thinking about how to facilitate our work processes thanks to the wonder of technology, to help us work faster and smarter, and this is exactly what online signatures do.
Why switch to an online signature?
We can say that online signatures are actually superior to handwritten signatures in many ways. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider switching:
Efficiency is king
With wet signatures, we need to print a document, sign it, scan it, and send it back. Does anyone else think this is a total waste of valuable time and precious resources? (Not to mention all that paper!). Tedious admin becomes a breeze when you can sign all your contracts, documents, proposals, and so on, online. Signing your documents electronically will turbocharge your workflow and free up time and resources.
Sign on the go
Another great advantage of using a digital signature is that you can sign your documents anytime, anywhere. All you need is an electronic device like a laptop, phone, or tablet. Whether you’re on a train heading to a business conference or lying on a tropical beach enjoying some well-deserved time off, you’ll be able to take care of your contracts in no time at all.
Although it’s not necessarily going to have a huge impact on your profits, switching to online signatures can certainly help you reduce costs. Notably, printing costs, postal costs when sending documents, and transport costs when signing in person. Perhaps more importantly, the time-saving factor will allow you to invest resources in other aspects of your business.
When you give your clients the opportunity to sign an agreement online in just a few seconds, your business looks professional and reliable. Making the process as simple and straightforward as possible leads to happy clients and lays the foundation for a great relationship.
Businesses love it
It’s no secret that technology is constantly evolving and transforming the way businesses operate. Online signatures are gradually taking over from handwritten signatures worldwide. From Legal to HR and Sales, all departments can benefit from sealing deals electronically.
These are just some examples of industries and sectors using online signatures today:
- Real Estate
- Law Firms
- Public Sector
What is a signature generator?
At this point you must be wondering, ‘how can I make my signature electronic?’ As we mentioned above, there are different forms of signing a document electronically, and not all e-signatures look the same.
You may be familiar with Adobe Acrobat’s signing feature that allows you to sign a PDF document. In this case, you can choose to draw your signature in the program or use a printed version of your name – both versions are equally valid.
But there are many other programs and services available for creating signatures. Using a professional and reliable service that can provide you with a verifiable signature generator tool will give you peace of mind when signing important documents.
If you’re already using contract management software, it’s very likely it comes with a built-in signature generator that all parties can use to sign the document easily and with all the legal guarantees you need.
Are online signatures safe?
Although technology is at an advanced stage when it comes to online signatures, many businesses are yet to switch to fully electronic operations. Even when all other aspects of the business are performed online, there’s a tendency to stick with wet signatures for this final step, as mentioned in Market & Research.
This is because sometimes there’s a lack of trust in this modern way of giving consent. There’s even some skepticism about how safe and legal it is. It’s true that not all signature generators carry the same legal guarantees, but in general electronic signing is actually safer than traditional methods, as it’s verifiable and traceable. If in doubt about the validity of your online signature, you can always confirm whether you’re using a reliable vendor by checking the American regulations (ESIGN) or the EU regulations (eIDAS) on electronic signatures.
Don’t get left behind, streamline your work with online signatures
Just from taking a look around, you will notice that online signatures are well on the way to becoming the most widely accepted form of signing contracts. That’s not surprising at all as they’re safe, practical, and easy to use. And let’s not forget how signing electronically makes transactions smoother and gives you the flexibility to sign on the go.
Shifting to electronic or digital signatures is one of the smartest moves you can make to get contracts flowing quickly and boost business performance. It also tells your clients that you’re savvy, reliable, and super-efficient. What’s not to like?