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Sorting fact from fiction on electronic signatures

Sorting fact from fiction on electronic signatures

My Business has received numerous questions about the everyday application and implications of using electronic signatures. Here, we set the record straight on this new technology impacting potentially every business alive.

During our very first My Business LIVE event, DocuSign APAC’s head of SMB, Tom Hyde, was joined by a DocuSign customer, Amreeta Abbott of NowInfinity, to discuss the significance of digitising the signing of contracts and the implications of going paperless for modern businesses.

But there are many more questions that have arisen that we couldn’t have covered during the broadcast or that have come in since that time.

So we asked Mr Hyde to help answer your questions in a bid to help you determine whether this technology is right for your business:

Q: How can employees convince their more hesitant bosses (and perhaps older/old-school) to go fully paperless?

A: According to Mr Hyde, the benefits can speak for themselves – making it important to demonstrate the real-world applications of going paperless.

“The benefits… include an improved customer experience, increased compliance (through digital audit trails), increased business process efficiency, improved information retention and accessibility, lower operational costs (labour, hard costs, environmental costs),” he said.

Q: Organisations will typically only change if they realise there is an issue. How do you help them see there is a problem without being too pushy/salesy?

A: “Assess the ‘time’ it takes to complete an agreement,” Mr Hyde explained.

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“Are your staff spending time preparing agreements, chasing people for signatures? Physically walking paper around to collect signatures? Standing by the printer waiting for documents? Do documents go missing, or are they being returned filled out incorrectly, causing you to spend more time getting them corrected? If you answer yes to any of the above, there is a problem. Are you competitors leveraging technology to create a better customer experience than the one you offer? If yes, you have a problem.”

Q: What about forged signatures?

A: According to Mr Hyde, electronic signatures can actually be more secure than traditional “wet” signatures, because of the digital trail they leave, making it much easier to identify who signed what.

“In terms of forgery, DocuSign is actually more secure than a wet signature - as [we] capture a full digital audit trail of the actions performed on the document. This includes the date and time of signing, IP address, verification through email + mobile number and, in some cases, GPS location at the point of signing,” he said.

“You will receive all of this information by way of a secure PDF known as a certificate of completion (if you are the DocuSign sender). If you were to compare that to a wet signature sent in the post for example, you have no understanding or visibility to any of those factors, making the likelihood of forgery much more prominent.”

Q: Does there need to be a certain volume of signatures obtained, and does a transaction have to be of a certain amount/value, for paperless transactions to be a cost-effective option for our business?

A: “No, there are many areas of ROI to an electronic system of agreement,” said Mr Hyde, who cited the hard cost saving on paper and storage, efficiency gains associated with the speed of send (not to mention saving on postal costs), and that speed to revenue is preferred no matter the amount.

“All of these factors are quantified by the resulting productivity gains. Staff have more time to focus on tasks that they’re passionate about and deliver more for the businesses they work for.”

Q: What security parameters are integrated to make electronic signatures secure?

A: “DocuSign provides full document encryption to ensure the privacy of data. All documents are encrypted with the highest levels of encryption,” Mr Hyde explained.

“Our hashing algorithm verifies that documents have not been modified, and our PKI digital certificate technology secures documents and signatures with tamper-evident seals.

“DocuSign’s court-admissible, digitally signed and tamper-evident Certificate of Completion contains a comprehensive audit trail that includes:

• Signing parties’ names
• Digital signatures
• Email addresses
• Public IP addresses
• Signing location (if provided)
• Chain of custody (sent, viewed, signed, etc.)
• Timestamps”

Q: How are electronic signatures verified?

A: “In additional to basic email verification, DocuSign offers numerous authentication options to ensure that only the intended recipient is able to view and sign a document. These include Access Code and SMS authentication among others.”

Q: What responsibilities does a business have if data breaches occur when using an electronic signatures provider?

A: “This would need to be referred to a legal or assessments team under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement),” said Mr Hyde.

“My take is that the business would hold the same responsibility that they would have if their emails, DMS or other systems are breached.”

Q: Can multiple signatures be included on a single document using electronic signatures?

A: “Yes – [you can] place multiple signatures on a document that can be sent to one or many recipients for signing.”

Q: What do you think is the significance of using peoples’ natural signatures versus using a digitally chosen one?

A: “It is completely up to personal preference. From a security and legal standpoint, there is no difference between signing on screen or ‘adopting’ a signature,” Mr Hyde said.

“Some users find it’s quicker to simply adopt a signature.”

For more insights into using electronic signatures and paperless business, check out the My Business LIVE webcast.

Sorting fact from fiction on electronic signatures
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