Additionally, in the internet era, customers expect their provider – whether it be their grocery store loyalty programme, insurer, bank or gym – to provide light, easy and convenient ways to sign up for a service.
Enter digital signatures. “Advanced Electronic Signatures are legally-recognised and provide proof for all of the parties to a document that the appended signature indicates acceptance,” says Etion Chief Solutions Officer, Maeson Maherry.
“What this means in real terms,” Maherry says, “is that if I need, for example, to sign up a new client, I can electronically send the relevant contract, they can sign it, the document is sealed on signature, and both parties have a fast, easy way to enter a relationship (with an audit trail), all without printing a thing.
“If I need to get all the members of my company board to sign the minutes of the last meeting, I can electronically facilitate this through sending each executive the document to review and electronically sign without needing to print and courier the same document to each to ensure that we end up with one, original set of signed documents. Technology removes the need for this cumbersome process and renders it digital, efficient and, most importantly, irrefutable. Unlike handwritten signatures, digital signatures are very difficult to forge.”
Digital signatures are also mobile. The key part of an electronic signature is that you need to do something to indicate acceptance which then results in the signature being committed to the document. This something can be re-entering your password, putting a fingerprint down on a biometric device, entering a one-time pin or password or inserting a smart card and pin. With the recognition technology embedded in smart phones, you could scan your face, one of your fingers or your thumb, to indicate acceptance, much the same way you do when making purchases on your mobile device’s app store.
While people are incredibly attached to their paper, and their ink signatures, the act of signing documents is one process that can be digitised effortlessly using technology that has been available for some time and is tried and tested. The benefits are far-reaching.
Says Maherry: “Electronic documents are much easier to store, securely, and can be easily retrieved even many years later without having to go through piles of dustry boxes in an archive facility. Each document has an audit trail, from its creation to destruction, which ensures compliance and governance requirements can be seamlessly met. The costs of creating, editing, signing, storing and securing digital documents is also substantially lower than their paper equivalent.”
The biggest saver, however, is in removing time delays in various parts of internal or customer-facing approval processes – instead of faxing or couriering paperwork around for new contracts, or quote approvals, or to get directors to sign board meeting minutes, you can do it all electronically – smoothly, easily, and with a solid audit trail.
Maherry will be speaking on the productivity improvements and efficiencies that businesses can realise from digital signatures at the Digital Transformation Congress at Gallagher Convention Centre on 26 July.