Events in recent years have meant that we are personally and professionally moving further into a more digitized and paperless world.
Enterprises are increasingly opting for remote and hybrid working models as well as more environmentally and financially sustainable business practices as they aim to reduce corporate consumption.
One small but effective way of reaching these goals is to adopt electronic and digital signing processes, reducing the need for physical paperwork and in-person agreements.
What Are Electronic and Digital Signatures?
Every digital signature is an electronic one but not every electronic signature is digital, so what is the difference?
First, electronic or eSignatures are an efficient way to get documents signed quickly from around the world at any time. There are many different types of eSignatures and in the most basic form range from paper scans of physical signatures uploaded onto a document, to email confirmations in response to an agreement. Some eSignature platforms will even have the option to create and add your own personal signature to save and attach to any document or PDF when needed.
Whilst this is an efficient and user-friendly way of document signing, they do not ensure a document’s integrity or provide a strong identity assurance. Here is where digital signatures come in. Digital signatures are a type of eSignature but have their foundations based in Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).
This means that while the simplest form of eSignatures may not verify the identity of the signer, digital signatures are able to authenticate and secure the signed documents with an encrypted digital certificate, protecting the document and all of its contents.
Digital signatures offer greater security than most electronic signatures as they are encrypted with a private key and cannot be decrypted without the corresponding public key. They also cannot be contested in a court of law as they can only be altered by the intended parties who are also notified of any changes so that they cannot be forged or tampered with.
How Are Digital Signatures Being Used?
More industries and public sectors are incorporating digital signatures into their bureaucratic and administrative processes.
Digital signatures have found use in the housing and financial sectors as a convenient, and efficient way of signing applications and agreements, compliance and regulatory documents, and are overall an effective tool in reducing the risk of fraud in the cases of loans and financial security.
HR and governmental sectors have been opting for digital signatures as a method of securing the personal data of employees and members of the public, such as on-boarding, contract extensions, salaries and/or documentation relating to the termination of the contract.
Digital signatures also provide accountability within business and employment contracts as the signatures held on the contracts are legally binding thus avoiding or quickly resolving disputes between each party that may occur further down the line, saving time and money.
Why Are More Enterprises Adopting Digital Signatures?
In the 2020s, we have seen clear observable changes in enterprise working models as businesses adapt to an increasingly digital world. The digital processing and automation of administrative processes in business has created a more flexible working environment and more organizations are beginning to catch up. Not only this but, digitally signing documents is more sustainable and cost efficient than their pen-to-paper counterparts by saving paper and the cost that comes with it.
The most important advantages that digital signatures offer to enterprises however, is cost effectiveness and security.
Because they are founded within PKI, digital signatures can support businesses in their compliance policies by containing the associated data accordingly, as well as the documents themselves, helping to protect the data of anyone who signs, like employees, clients, lease-holders and so on. This of course also protects enterprises from non-compliance penalties.
Do You Want to Unlock the Power of Digital Signatures?
Utilizing digital signatures affords enterprises greater efficiency, security, and credibility all for a reduced cost. We’ve covered some of the top level information in this blog, but if you want to explore the different benefits of digital signatures, types and find out more about how you can start utilizing them yourself, why not sign up for our free webinar on unlocking the power of digital signatures below?