When was the last time you wrote a cheque, or even knew where your chequebook was? For most of us, even going to the bank is a rare event (if you can find one that is open), and everything is done via internet banking now. Its quick, easy, convenient, and secure. Imagine having to go back to cheques and constantly visiting the bank in person to do most of your financial transactions? Online shopping would still be in the stone-age and our everyday lives would be very different!
The same evolution has been taking place for documents and data, though like internet banking, it is a subtle and gradual change that many have not really noticed. It does not seem that long ago that everything that you needed was printed out on letter headed paper, posted to you to sign and then returned. Aside from the ecological and carbon footprint factor, the costs to the business was much higher, both logistically in sending and receiving, but also waiting to close transactions.
And here is where the document sealing and signing evolution has not only developed in different ways but adds benefits to businesses and end users.
Want to discover the fundamentals of digital vs electronic signatures?
The Pitfalls of Electronic Documents
It might seem obvious, but moving to an electronic document world offers many benefits to both the organization and to the users or employees, but there are also hazards along the way.
For a physical document to be legally binding, it would go through something like this:
- A letter or document is printed out on letterheaded paper and signed by one or more representatives of the organization to prove its authenticity
- The document is then handed or posted to the recipient who will assume it is authentic or may contact the sender to check
- They will then action or acknowledge the document, or sign and send back
All that takes time and resources, but at least the traditional paper version created a legally binding document and signing proof – especially if it was seen or notarized to avoid disputes. But it is a very slow and inefficient process that would be repeated many times a day.
The way that many organizations now use, is to digitally sign documents and then send them electronically for recipients to view, approve or sign. Sounds simple, right? Well, yes, it is, and quick and simple has its place, but in the world of legal contracts, financial transactions, and any document saying facts and figures or pledging commitment, quick and simple is not good enough or legally binding.
As a financial institution, would you accept an electronically signed mortgage for £500,000 without any legal proof that it is really the consumer that signed it? They could dispute it later in court, and where does that put you, the lender? Would that be an acceptable risk to your organization?
The same applies to internal agreements. An employee needs to know without any doubt that a document, contract, or agreement originated without changes from their organization, before they even consider trusting it, let along signing it. And once signed, that signature needs to be undisputable. All this is complicated even further by ensuring that the process is still quick and simple to implement and use. And this is the issue faced by organizations all over the world.
How do they know they are implementing the right solution to protect themselves and avoid fines, penalties, or lost revenue?
The Electronic World According to eIDAS
The good news is that regulations, such as eIDAS, have set out the requirements for both the organizations implementing the right solution, but equally important, they set out the requirements for the Certificate Authorities (CAs) that are creating the certificates, and the solutions that work with an organization signing application.
If you want to discover more about eIDAS, why not read our eBook?
With most countries adopting eIDAS, or equivalent stringent regulations, compliance and set requirements are ensured. Organizations must implement the right solution, using the right level of certificates so that they can safeguard themselves and employees. Although there are distinct levels, the Qualified level of seals and signatures are what organizations should be looking to implement as they offer the highest level of security and are legally binding.
And this is where the Qualified Signing Service (QSS) comes to the rescue.
Implement a Fully Qualified Solution for Peace of Mind
GlobalSign’s Qualified Signing Service is more than just a platform for buying qualified seals and signatures, it allows you to use mobile devices to authenticate signatures by employees wherever they are in the world. By implementing a secure yet flexible electronic signature service, your workforce will have the confidence to work remotely and electronically without the concern that the documents are not genuine, or that the signatures may be called in doubt.
GlobalSign are here to make your journey to implementing qualified signatures and seals as painless and seamless as possible. Click here to learn more or speak to our team today.