The benefits of digital signatures

Our world is now dominated by talk of a new industrial revolution, one that takes digitalisation and artificial intelligence to new and unprecedented levels.

However, for all the talk about driverless cars and cryptocurrencies, there are many businesses that do not take full advantage of proven technology which has been available for many years.

– Electronic signatures can prove the origin of any communication.
– Typewritten, scanned, fingerprint or retina detection all classify as an e-signature.
– Customers can electronically sign a contract on any device from anywhere.
– Suppliers can see who’s viewed the contract and if it’s been signed – avoiding unnecessary chasing.
– E-signature is quick, easy and avoids mistakes.

In 2000, the government, then led by Tony Blair, passed the Electronic Communications Act which recognised electronic signatures as legally binding. Some seventeen years later large parts of the business world have still not fully embraced the significant opportunities offered by this facility.

Electronic signatures were developed to simplify business transactions because they can prove the origin of any communication, show whether there has been any alteration to a document and maintain confidentiality, all key elements of every contractual negotiation.

Let’s remind ourselves that electronic signatures can come in many forms: ‘typewritten’, scan of original signature, electronic representation, biometric identification (fingerprint, retina detection) or a unique representation of characters.

Broadly speaking these can be divided into two types: simple, such as scanned documents and tick boxes, or advanced, where signatures clearly identify and authenticate the signatory and are linked to data that can detect any change.

It goes without saying that high value and complex transactions require the greatest security and authentication, which leads us to the use within the leasing industry. Financial transactions require the highest level of security, and it has taken banks and finance companies a little longer than some industries to develop and test the technology required to roll out e-signature capability, especially when integrating into a complete digital package.

At Lease Group Adobe Sign is used to ‘close’ an ever-growing number of contracts. Our eSign process has been developed specifically for situations where leasing has been introduced by a supplier to a customer as a means of acquiring goods and services. Once a customer has accepted the terms and conditions involved they are sent an email with a link to the contract which can then be downloaded and ‘signed’ on any device. The entire transaction can be completed at the point of sale whilst providing all parties with easy and ongoing access to the contract.

In situations where an authorised signatory is not available at the point of sale, an email with a link to the contract is sent to the individual who can quickly sign and return. The supplier can also see who has viewed the contract and when it has been signed. This ensures no effort is wasted chasing things up or arranging to get paper documents signed.

More businesses should be embracing the technology that can significantly reduce mistakes and delays whilst offering the benefit of ongoing access to contracts through ‘on line’ storage.