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The need for online signatures during Covid-19

Electronic signatures benefits during Covid-19

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people live and do business. Non-essential businesses have closed down their stores and shifted to setting remote workforce. With people being in quarantine, a "wet" ink signature can be very inconvenient.

This new reality has led to individuals directing their attention to the electronic format of doing things.

While legal bodies consider that electronic and digital signatures are a fact of modern commercial life, individuals and businesses should choose how their data and information are stored, processed, accessed, and secured.

In this article, we examine the aspect of online signatures during Covid-19 and signatures' requirements moving forward.

What is an e-signature?

Just like the traditional pen and paper signature, an e-signature is a legally binding confirmation of acceptance of the details of a contract, document, or form.

However, the traditional signature requires processing forms, printing, photocopying, and having a person physically sign them. Mostly it involves sending the document by courier services, fax, post, or a messenger.

With today's world of increasing digital penetration, the "wet" ink signatures are no longer useful for companies and businesses that prioritize efficiency and convenience to their customers, especially in the light of Coronavirus.

An electronic signature is a legal way of accepting, approving or consenting on an electronic form or document. It is the process of taking an electronic form of someone's signature placed on a document as a confirmation of acceptance.

A digital signature employs "cryptographic authentication technology," encryption placed under the signature.

This encryption is used to track the step-by-step process of signing the document and can help identify who signed the documents and the time they signed them.

Privacy considerations of digital signatures.

Digital or online signatures always involve the uploading and sharing of documents using cloud platforms. However, a question always comes up about the commercial confidentiality of the document when it is uploaded to cloud platforms.

Electronic signature solution vendors or service providers claim that every time a document is uploaded on the systems, the contents of the agreement, paper, or forms are encrypted- meaning that they cannot access or control these contents.

By involving an external service provider to store the documents and the information in the cloud, companies, and individuals must have the utmost satisfaction that the providers can safeguard documents and other vital information.

A major consideration is the location of the cloud server hosting the relevant data and contents. If the server is hosted abroad, it will be subjected to both the local laws of data protection and the laws of where the server is hosted.

Foreign governments related agencies can have more powers to access the documents and the information therein. In reality, apart from the individuals, the company is going to analyze where the records are stored.

They may or may not do this, but the problem of not examining where the document is stored is that it can lead to a material breach of the information.

The challenge of signing documents in isolation.

Regulated businesses and companies must ensure that documentation is conducted in a secure IT environment. Consequently, it results in potential challenges arising from effectively and validly signing of documents in cases where the signers are self-isolating or are in a different location.

Regardless of the pandemic, companies must come up with ways to overcome these practical problems.

 

  • Technological solutions.

 

Luckily, there are many existing technologies that can help in providing a solution to this problem. Legally binding e-signature provider allow authorized signatories to access and execute any process on the document online on their laptops or smartphones.

The system avoids the use of traditional methods of signing documents as well as the paper preparation costs such as scanning, printing, and photocopy. Additionally, every document provides supporting evidence such as the time, IP address of the signatories, and even the execution dates.

  • Cash flow.

Major concerns brought about by Coronavirus is financial difficulties. Even though governments are putting up measures to cushion the economy and banks giving loans to businesses struggling financially, doing things digitally is essential for business continuity in the light of Coronavirus.

The digital solution is the new norm and the secret to a successful business amid the pandemic and its restrictions. It provides help to problems like cash flow management, customer service, and driving sales.

  • Paperless working.

Despite several secure and legally binding electronic signature solutions being in existence, businesses' skepticism has led to the delay of deployment. Even so, the current condition needs business flexibility even when it is not possible to work from home.

Though not every company has not enjoyed the full benefits of the digital shift, the ability to have documents signed without the need for physical presence and the risk of Coronavirus infection have led to the widespread of use of electronic signatures.

Advantages of mobile-optimized e-signatures.

The first form of e-signature solutions depends on emailing the client PDF documents with the embedded online signatures capabilities.

However, there is only a single challenge with these signatures; they are not mobile optimized, making it hard for parties without immediate access to computers to sign on the go.

By the time customers got access to a computer, some precious time would have passed, or the email might have been lost, forgotten, or the customer's interest might have changed.

On the contrary, a mobile-optimized e-signature solution features many benefits to people or businesses who apply them.

Below are the benefits that a mobile-optimized signature will bring to your company:

  • Instant interactions. Notifications are sent to customers to ask for their consent via their phones when their interests are highest. They do not have to wait for emails, scan their physical signature or download some apps. All of which are time-consuming and barriers to effective business.
  • Ease of integration. This type of modern signature development can be easily integrated into the companies' operations system such as the CRM, workflows, and the third party using the API. It makes the integration process simple and effortless, promoting successful employee adoption.
  • Legally allowed. The modern e-signature solution complies and exceeds the standard of the ESIGN acts, effective online transaction acts, and other state and federal laws protecting the electronic signature.
  • Tamper proof. Businesses that prioritizes security can benefit from the automated time-stamped record of the transactions with the full audit trail. This allows for total compliance and avoids the risks of legal exposure.
  • Sign once. Customers can type their signatures once and just tap on it to use it on other documents.
  • Flexible. Best online signature places the mobile experience in the middle of the transactions to fit the modern customers' lifestyle of doing things on the go. Businesses also need to offer their customers the options of giving their signatures using other channels and devices, including email, the business website, IVR, Alexa, or the in-house terminals.
  • Agent-guided. Agents are able to guide customers through the e-signature process in real-time via phone conversation, making sure they sign properly the first time.

How to choose and implement an e-signature solution for your company or business.

There are plenty of options and tools that are available in the market for those who might want to implement online signatures into their workflows. Check out the guide below if you want help with choosing the right solution.

The following are the major steps to follow during the early stages of choosing an e-signature for your company:

1.    Evaluate your company's need: know the number of agreements, contracts, or documents that need to be signed every day. Small companies with small customer transactions regularly can do with the rudimentary options like adding the signature line in MS word or excel. Large enterprises will gain more from the mobile-optimized e-signature solutions that can efficiently and quickly handle numerous customers' transactions.

2.    Consider your cases. Will everybody handling customers be required to learn and use the e-signature services or just one department. Outline the transactions that require the use of online signature-onboarding, modifications of existing contracts, receipt of services, etc. Doing this will enable your company to identify how many employees need access to the signature and help you plan accordingly.

3.    Ensure smooth implementation. Once you have settled on the best e-signature solution that fits your needs, ensure there is a smooth implementation of the software. This needs evaluation of the compatibility and the integration in the existing system, ensuring the integration is done in a compliant manner, and ability to handle the infrastructure considerations.

Conclusion

Doing business in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic has majorly shifted to the online space, though not all have made the move. In this regard, adopting digital forms of doing operations has improved tremendously.

It is doubtless that there is a huge need for online signatures during the Covid-19 periods not only to help in preventing the spread of the infection but to help speed up the transactions being done online.

For businesses that need a competitive advantage and speed up transactions amid the pandemic, implementing an electronic signature is the way to go. You will streamline your operations get high customer satisfaction leading to good returns.

Contributor: admin
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