What Is an Electronic Signature?

What Is an Electronic Signature?

Esignatures, also known as electronic signatures, are digital versions of handwritten signatures. An esignature allows signatories to approve a document, much like handwritten or wet signatures.

They let multiple signatories authenticate digital forms and contracts while keeping track of who signed them and when.

Learn more about electronic signatures and how they can streamline your document signing process. Let’s dive in.

 

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What You Need to Know About Electronic Signatures

Electronic signatures are legal and binding in most jurisdictions. They offer a convenient way to execute contracts and other documents without the need for paper.

Esignatures are created using software that can capture your biometric data and meets all the legal requirements for signing a document. You can easily create an esignature using Fill and similar platforms. These online tools usually offer safety features like identity verification and encryption.

Types of esignatures

1. Simple electronic signatures (SES)

A simple electronic signature is the most basic type of esignature. It is a scanned image of your handwritten signature or typed name.

2. Advanced electronic signatures (AES)

An advanced electronic signature is a more secure type of esignature. It uses biometrics to verify the signer’s identity.

3. Qualified electronic signatures (QES)

A qualified electronic signature is the most secure type of esignature that uses digital certificates for verification. A QES is typically used for financial transactions and other high-value contracts.

Why Do I Need to Use Electronic Signatures?

Here are the qualities that explain the growing popularity of esignatures across a wide range of industries:

Convenient

Electronic signatures simplify the process of signing documents. They can help speed up business workflows by eliminating the need to print, sign, and scan documents.

You can sign or request signatures from anywhere in the world using an internet-ready device like your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. No dedicated fax machines or landlines are required.

Cost-effective

Electronic signatures make going green effortless. By using electronic signatures, you can eliminate the need for office supplies and printing equipment. Electronic signatures can save your business money in other ways as well.

For example, if you need to send a document overseas, you can do so electronically rather than incurring the cost of airmail.

Legally binding

Electronic signatures have been legally recognized in the United States since June 2000. The E-Sign Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions ACT have established that esignatures are just as legally binding as their ink-based counterparts.

Electronic signatures carry the same weight and authority as physical ones for all other purposes. They are a valuable asset in any business agreement because they save time.

Secure

Esignature apps and services use a variety of methods to protect you from tampering, forgery, and identity theft. Some use biometrics, like a fingerprint or iris scan, to verify the identity of the signer. Others use digital certificates to verify the authenticity of signatures.

Esignature service providers understand that your signature is a crucial part of any agreement, and that you need to be confident that your documents are safe.

When Can I Use Electronic Signatures?

You can use esignatures for most documents where you would usually use a handwritten signature. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Contracts
  • Certificates of incorporation
  • Insurance claims
  • Medical release forms
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
  • Purchase orders
  • Property agreements
  • Permission slips
  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Waivers

Where Can I Use Esignatures?

Esignatures bring convenience and efficiency to various departments or industries, including:

Sales

Time is of the essence in sales. You need to be able to get proposals and quotes to qualified leads as soon as possible without having to go through red tape. With an esignature, you can reduce the time it takes to get a proposal out the door. They speed up the sales cycle by eliminating the need to print, fax, or mail documents.

Customer service

Esignatures can save customer service representatives time and effort by allowing them to sign documents remotely. For example, if a customer needs to return a product, the representative can process the return quickly with an electronic signature. This way, the customer does not have to waste time filling out paperwork or waiting in line.

Human resources

HR departments use esignatures for various tasks, such as onboarding new employees, filing employee leaves, and approving payroll disbursement. This helps them manage the workforce more efficiently.

Finance and banking

Customers can use esignatures to sign up for a direct deposit, make loan payments, or authorize automatic bill payments. In addition, finance officers and accountants can use esignatures to approve invoices and transactions.

IT and operations

Esignatures can be used to approve change requests, sign off on software changes, or make purchase orders. It can help streamline the workflow of the IT department.

Legal services

Lawyers and paralegals often use esignatures to sign documents, such as contracts, NDAs, and legal agreements. Esignatures are secure and legally binding so that they can be used in court as evidence.

FAQs About Esignatures

Are electronic signatures and digital signatures the same?

While these terms are often interchanged, they are not strictly the same. The US Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-Sign) Act defines an esignature as an “electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to, or associated with, a contract or other record and adopted by a person with the intent to sign a record.”

On the other hand, a digital signature is a technology that is used to encrypt and decrypt signatures. This is used in electronic signature solutions to verify the identity of the signer and to ensure that the document hasn’t been tampered with.

Can I use an electronic signature on any document?

No. Certain documents must still be signed in person, including:

  • Last will and testament
  • Divorce papers
  • Adoption papers

However, most documents that can be signed with a physical signature can also be signed electronically. Keep in mind that electronic signatures may not be accepted as valid in certain countries.

Always check if your state or location has specific laws that limit how esignatures are used in legal documents.

Is my electronic signature similar to my wet signature?

Yes, in the sense that an electronic signature is simply an electronic version of your handwritten or wet signature. It can be a digital image of your handwritten signature or a typed name.

The difference is that you create esignatures using digital tools instead of ink and paper. Often, an electronic signature is also less prone to forgery, thanks to security measures like encryption.

When can I use an electronic signature?

You can use electronic signatures to sign a document. You only need an internet-ready device, a stable internet connection, and a signature service or a platform. Some examples include signing a contract, applying for a loan, or giving consent to a medical procedure.

The Best Software for Electronic Document Signing

Now that you know what electronic signatures are and how they work, you’re ready to start using them. But first, you’ll need to choose software for electronic document signing.

The ease of using electronic signatures is one of the reasons businesses of all sizes invest in this technology. Start creating esignatures in a matter of minutes with Fill.

Fill can help you conveniently create and collect instant, secure, and compliant documents. Our esignature software speeds up turnaround times so that you can close deals quickly, onboard new employees without delay, or get paid faster.

Get the free demo now to see how Fill can help your business.

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