Electronic signature: The benefits and how it works
What is an electronic signature? The what, why, and how
An electronic signature is a cost-effective and secure way to get electronic documents signed quickly. E-signatures are legally binding in the vast majority of countries around the world and can carry the same weight and legal effect as an inked or handwritten signature.
Electronic signatures are generally legally binding, but it does depend on where you live. Find out all you need to know here.
Which types of electronic signatures does Oneflow offer?
Oneflow offers both simple (SES) and advanced electronic signatures (AdES). The simple e-signature comes in many forms which include the following:
This is the most commonly used form of electronic signatures where you sign with a click of a button through a private, encrypted link.
SMS or text message
If you choose to sign with an SMS or text message, your signer will receive an SMS with a 6-digit code, and they will use it to confirm their identity when signing the contract.
Handwritten signature is also known as wet ink signature. and can be convenient when you want your signer to sign “on the same device”. This method enables you to draw or write your signature, and has the same legal effect as a standard electronic signature.
This method allows you and your counterparty to sign your contracts using electronic ID. To provide secure and reliable eIDs and advanced signatures in a wide range of countries, Oneflow partners with Signicat, the leading eID broker in EU/EEA and a Qualified Trust Service Provider.
Are electronic signatures secure?
Here, we’ll focus on Europe. So, in short: yes.
A core part of eIDAS is the recognition of electronic signatures as a valid form of signatures. This means that no EU/EEA court can dismiss an electronic signature solely because it is in an electronic format.
However, not all signatures are created equal and the regulation defines three levels of electronic signatures: ‘simple’ electronic signature, advanced electronic signature and qualified electronic signature. The requirements of each level build on the requirements of the level below it, such that a qualified electronic signature meets the most requirements and a ‘simple’ electronic signature the least. Find out everything you need to know here.
Which departments can benefit from Oneflow?
Every department at your company can benefit from Oneflow, whether your company is an SME, Enterprise or a large multinational. Here are just a few examples:
Close deals up to 8x faster by removing all that unnecessary back and forth. You can track your contracts at every stage of the negotiation process, and even invite your prospects to make edits directly inside the only version of the contract.
Personalize your employment contracts with images and videos, and get them signed more quickly too. With archive storage, you can even say goodbye to the days of misplaced or wrongly filed contracts.
Negotiating large contracts and managing supply chains is complex at the best of times. With electronic signatures, you can simplify negotiations, and keep all of your procurement contracts in one place. With our integrations, you don’t even need to copy anything from Oneflow.
With Oneflow, your legal department no longer needs to be bogged down by endless admin. With electronic signatures, your company’s contracts can be effortlessly and reliably signed in moments. No more chasing and authenticating!
What are the benefits of using an e-signature?
Speed up time-to-sign
When negotiating contracts, the entire printing, signing, posting, etc. process will take days, if not weeks. Once the recipient receives the documents, they will repeat the same process of printing the document, signing it, and posting it to you. This back and forth process is frustrating and time consuming. With a digital contract, you can close a deal within minutes using e-signatures.
Review and sign anywhere
The modern world loves the idea of on-the-go. Make it easy for your counterparty to review and sign your contract anywhere. Have them sign it from any device, from the mobile phone, laptop wherever they go as long as there is the Internet. E-signatures make it easy for anyone to sign from anywhere.
Save time and money
Time is money. And with e-signatures, you can save a lot of it. Plus, think of all the paper that you waste to put print agreements on. Unsurprisingly, some contracts can be tens of pages. That’s a lot of waste of paper and natural resources. With e-signatures, you can go paperless entirely.
Stay secure and compliant
Move the entire contract signing process from a manual process to a digital workflow, reducing risks of costly errors and legal consequences. You can also use our templates to increase compliance. Your legal team only has to review once before you can start using them.
A complete platform unlike traditional e-signature providers
What gives Oneflow that extra special something over any other e-signature products on the market today is its comprehensiveness. You might think of Oneflow as just another e-signature tool, but that’s not the case. Putting electronic signatures on your documents is just one part of a much bigger picture. Oneflow automates your entire contract workflow, from start to finish.
Manage your contracts in a collaborative environment
Only ever work on one version of the contract with your team and counterparts. Digital contracts make editing contracts in real-time possible, even after they are sent. No need to resend a new version every time there’s a change.
With robust searching tools, finding old contracts is a breeze. A comprehensive dashboard gives an overview of all pending, sent, or active contracts in your organization. And automatic notifications remind you when it’s time to renegotiate or renew.
Make contract data processable and usable to your business
Turn unstructured data into structured data, and make contracts a part of your workflow across the whole organization. You can integrate Oneflow into your existing processes and systems so that everything is quicker and decisions are smarter.
Streamline your sales, hiring, or purchasing workflows with functionality that goes beyond e-signature creation.
Electronic signature FAQs
Which are the levels of e-signatures according to eIDAS?
Not all signatures are created equally and the regulation defines three levels of electronic signatures: ‘simple’ electronic signature, advanced electronic signature and qualified electronic signature. The requirements of each level build on the requirements of the level below it, such that a qualified electronic signature meets the most requirements and a ‘simple’ electronic signature the least. More information here.
Are electronic signatures legally binding in my country?
One of the most frequently asked questions by our users is whether electronic signatures are legally binding in the countries where they are operating in.
First of all, it’s important to understand that even though eIDAS regulation sets up a framework to help businesses perform safer transactions into all countries in “European Single Market” and cross-border within the EU/EEA, the local legislations in each country vary. In many cases, the local legislations take precedence over the eIDAS regulations and furthermore, legislations are continuously updated.
This means that unless you’re consulting a lawyer specializing in this field of law in the country you’re operating in, anything that you read on the Internet will have a “this is not a legal advice” disclaimer to avoid disputes.
Oneflow develops, sells and implements digital contract management and automation systems. We, being the provider of a SaaS contract automation platform, as well as many electronic signature providers in the industry, are not in any credible position to advise anyone or any business in legal matters.
The only thing we can do is inform you how Oneflow works, how the different levels of signatures are implemented and on which assumptions the system operates. It will always be up to you as the user to ensure that you use the appropriate kind of signature for your kind of document and circumstance.
Which types of electronic signatures do Oneflow offer?
The simple electronic signature types that Oneflow offers include the following:
- Standard e-signature by which you sign with a click of a button through a private, encrypted link
- Signing with an SMS or text message;
- Signing with a wet ink or handwritten signature;
- Signing with electronic identification through our eID partners.
For advanced electronic signature Oneflow relies on external partners, such as Swedish and Norwegian BankID, and Signicat.
How do electronic signatures in Oneflow comply with the signature levels in the eIDAS regulation?
Oneflow offers electronic signatures at simple (Simple Electronic Signature, SES) and advanced level (Advanced Electronic Signature, AdES).
The simple level has no requirements beyond “data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign” (eIDAS Article 3). All our simple signatures do this and much more. We also collect multiple points of data for each signature, making even the simple level in many cases more secure than a traditional handwritten signature.
The advanced level puts strict requirements on the identification of the signatory and its control over the means of signing. In Oneflow this is handled by the various eIDs that can be used for signing. We also include the actual signature, as given to us by the eID provider, into the signed contract so that it can be later checked and validated.
As described above, in the section on “How does the eIDAS regulation apply to the EU/EEA and beyond?”, Oneflow does not offer legal advice and cannot tell you which type of signature you need in your specific case (kind of document and circumstance).
Which are the difference between electronic seals vs electronic signatures?
The legal framework as well as the technical implementation for seals are in most respects identical to signatures. The main difference between the two is that signatures implies legal intent on behalf of the of the signatory, which is not the case for seals.
The three levels of signatures, SES, AdES and QES, exist for seals as well and are somewhat confusingly named the same, namely Simple Electronic Seal (SES), Advanced Electronic Seal (AdES) and Qualified Electronic Seal (QES).
Which are the differences between electronic signatures and digital signatures?
An electronic signature is a broad term that refers to any electronic process that signifies agreement to a document or contract, including clicking an “I agree” button or typing your name into a signature field.
A digital signature, however, is a specific type of electronic signature that uses encryption technology to verify the authenticity of the signer and ensure that the document has not been altered since it was signed.
Which are the three types of electronic signatures?
There are different types or levels of electronic signatures according to the eIDAS Regulation: SES (Simple Electronic Signature), AdEs (Advanced Electronic Signature), and QES (Qualified Electronic Signature).
SES (Simple Electronic Signature)
The definition of an Electronic Signature under Swedish and EU law means that “means data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign” (eIDAS Regulaton article 3).
As there are no specific security requirements laid down by law, it is not possible to determine the legal value of such signature without evaluating the method and security applied in the specific case.
AdEs (Advanced Electronic Signature)
As the name suggests, it is an advanced form of signature that offers more security than a simple electronic signature. It can also identify the person who has signed the document.
This type of e-signature allows you to detect if someone has tampered with the signature after the signatory has put it on the document. These signatures are made secure with the help of cryptographic keys.
According to eIDAS Regulation, an advanced electronic signature means “an electronic signature which meets the following requirements:
- it is uniquely linked to the signatory;
- All parties are capable of identifying the signatory;
- it should be created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control. And
- it is linked to the data signed therewith in a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable.
QES (Qualified Electronic Signature)
The eIDAS Regulation defines qualified electronic signature as an advanced electronic signature that is created by a qualified electronic signature creation device. which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures”.
These signatures are advanced e-signatures but must adhere to certain EU standards. (i.a. based on a so called qualified certificate), which means they offer additional protection controls over the advanced counterparts.
You create this signature with the help of a device that’s specifically designed to create e-signatures. A court must normally admit these certificates the same legal value as a handwritten signature.