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7 Popular Myths About Electronic Signatures Debunked
Electronic signatures have been around for about two decades, allowing businesses to get rid of unnecessary paperwork and make their processes much faster and more cost-effective. However, there are still many people that don’t trust e-signatures, claiming them to be unsafe or complicated – and we are to debunk these popular myths about electronic signatures for business.
What Is an Electronic Signature
Basically, an electronic signature is a digital alternative to old-fashioned handwritten signatures. It provides a much more convenient way for signing various documents, allowing you to exchange documents faster. Think of it as a digital key that contains all of the important information about the signer that can be easily generated online to add a signature to all of your paperwork.
However, such a signature may or may not be legally binding, depending on the method used for its generation and the legislation you’re in. Electronic signatures are considered legal in both the EU and the US as well as in many other countries. The EU eIDAS regulation establishes three types of legal electronic signatures: SES (simple e-signature), AdES (advanced e-signatures), and QES (qualified e-signatures).
The EU law makes it clear that not every SES may be legally binding – only AdES and QES have real legal value since they use cryptographic keys to prevent fraud. The US law also considers electronic signatures with proper security level legal in most states under the UETA and ESIGN acts. And if you use an e-sign provided by a professional vendor, you can be sure your electronic signatures will be accepted by most courts.
7 Myths About Electronic Signatures and Documents
Despite being perfectly legal, e-signatures are still considered complicated and unnecessary by many. There are some misconceptions that are especially popular, and we’re about to debunk them, one by one. Let’s start.
1. E-signatures are legally invalid
Legal issues are inseparable from making deals, so this is the first question most people ask about e-signs: is such a signature legally binding at all? And the answer is: yes. The UETA and ESIGN acts establish e-signatures as legal alternatives to a common physical signature, and judicial practice has confirmed that countless times, making e-signs a perfectly viable way of completing contracts. And the EU law considers such digital keys a legal document signature, too.
2. E-signatures are not secure
Another common fear is that your digital key may get hacked or stolen, so it’s safer to rely on good old paper documents. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: your physical signature may be forged, and the algorithms used for electronic signatures are so advanced that getting unauthorized access to your data is nearly impossible. And don’t forget that electronic documents are much faster and require no storage space: it’s easier to send a PDF than to exchange piles of physical paper.
3. E-signatures are too complicated
Digital products may sometimes seem too difficult to understand if you’re not tech-savvy, and things involving cryptography look especially menacing. But you don’t need any technical background to use e-signs for your everyday contracts: there are plenty of professional vendors that provide full tech support, and signing a PDF is as easy as leaving your physical signature on paper.
4. E-signatures are expensive
Implementing e-signatures may seem like an excess expenditure, but it actually helps you save money, making your processes faster and freeing you from redundant paperwork. The fact is, businesses that use e-signs tend to be more profitable and cost-effective — and since more and more people are using it, you’re more likely to find new contractors with such a modern approach.
5. You can’t have more than one signer per document
Not at all. Signing an electronic document doesn’t prevent other e-sign owners from adding their signatures, allowing you to use it even for complex and especially important papers that require approval from multiple people. And receiving a signature from various contractors is much easier with digital tools.
6. E-signatures are just scanned handwritten signatures
While some e-signatures are indeed just digital copies of handwritten signatures, they are considered relatively unsafe, and the use of such electronic signatures is mostly limited to internal documents. Most of the e-signs have nothing to do with literal letters — instead, they work like a digital fingerprint.
7. All e-sign providers are the same
Most e-sign solutions are interchangeable, but each of them has its own features and flaws. While some of them provide extra security for extra cost, others offer quality support and additional options. There are many vendors out there, so make sure to find a method that suits your business.
Is a printed name a legal signature?
Yes and no. While some digital signatures are as simple as that, you need more secure solutions to protect your contracts and make them legitimate.
Can a signature be anything?
Legal signatures used by businesses are heavily encrypted data containers — you need something like that.
How valid is an electronic signature?
It depends on how protected it is. However, most of the professional solutions on the market are perfectly valid both for everyday use and legal purposes.
Are electronic signatures admissible in court?
Yes, the US and EU courts consider them to be a legal alternative to real signatures.
How do you know if a digital signature is real?
Electronic signatures write verified signer data into a document. This data is used as proof of validity.
How to sign a contract online?
Apply your e-sign to a PDF you want to sign and then send it to your contractors. Contact your e-signature vendor for detailed information.