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What are eSignatures?

6 min read
Person signing a contract on a tablet

In a rapidly evolving digital age, technology continues to reshape the way we conduct business. Traditional ink signatures are being replaced by their more efficient and secure counterpart—electronic signatures, or eSignatures. Embracing eSignatures offers a myriad of benefits, and this blog will delve into what eSignatures are, why they are rapidly growing in popularity and the advantages they provide over traditional pen-and-paper signatures. 


What is eSignature? 

An electronic signature, also known as an eSignature, is a digital representation of an individual's signature used to authenticate and authorize documents electronically. The process ensures the integrity, security, and non-repudiation of digital transactions, enabling secure online signing for both individuals and businesses. The signing process can involve using a mouse, touchpad, or stylus to draw a signature, or utilizing secure digital certificates and cryptographic algorithms.  


How eSignatures work 

Electronic signatures digitally capture a signature to authenticate and authorize documents electronically. The process involves several key steps. First, the document that requires a signature is uploaded to an eSignature platform. The signer receives an invitation via email or other means to review and sign the document. Upon opening the document, the signer creates a digital representation of their signature. The platform then encrypts this signature and other relevant information to ensure security and prevent tampering. Once the signature is applied, the document is considered legally binding, and a complete audit trail is generated, providing a record of who signed the document and when. eSignatures are a convenient and secure way to handle agreements, saving time, reducing paperwork, and streamlining processes. 


Why eSignature is growing so rapidly 

The eSignature market has witnessed extraordinary growth in recent years, driven by several factors that cater to the needs of modern businesses and individuals. Let's explore these factors in detail: 

  • Technological advancements. Advancements in technology have been the catalyst for the widespread adoption of eSignatures. The implementation of robust encryption algorithms, biometric authentication, and cloud-based solutions have revolutionized the security and seamlessness of eSignature processes. These innovations instill confidence in businesses and customers, driving the acceptance and usage of eSignatures. 
  • Digital transformation and remote work. The global shift towards digital transformation and the rise of remote work have been instrumental in the growing popularity of eSignatures. In an era where physical presence is not always feasible, eSignatures provide an efficient and secure way to sign documents from anywhere at any time, eliminating the need for cumbersome paperwork. 
  • Cost and time savings. Embracing eSignatures translates into significant cost and time savings for businesses. By eliminating the need for physical documents, companies can reduce expenses related to printing, shipping, and storage. The streamlined eSignature process accelerates transaction completion, enhancing productivity and customer satisfaction. 
  • Compliance and security. In an age marked by data breaches and privacy concerns, businesses are prioritizing compliance and data security. eSignatures address these concerns by offering robust security measures such as encryption, authentication protocols, and audit trails. Adherence to legal regulations like ESIGN in the United States and eIDAS in the European Union further reinforces the trustworthiness and acceptance of eSignatures. 
  • Growing acceptance and awareness. As more industries and businesses embrace eSignatures, their acceptance and awareness continue to surge. Across sectors like finance, healthcare, real estate, and legal services, organizations recognize the benefits of eSignatures in streamlining workflows. This widespread adoption fuels the growth of the eSignature market, creating a positive feedback loop of acceptance. 


Types of eSignature 

Digital signatures. Digital signatures use cryptographic algorithms to create a unique digital fingerprint of a document and the signer's identity. They provide a high level of security and integrity, ensuring that the document remains unaltered after signing. Digital signatures are widely accepted and legally binding in various industries and jurisdictions.  

Scanned signatures. Scanned signatures involve capturing a person's physical signature on paper and converting it into a digital image. While they are less secure than digital signatures, scanned signatures are often used for a familiar and personal touch in certain contexts where strict legal validity is not a requirement. 

Typed or click-to-sign signatures. Typed or click-to-sign signatures are commonly used for quick and informal agreements in online settings. These signatures can be as simple as typing one's name or clicking an "I Agree" button, making them easy to implement but potentially less secure compared to other types of e-signatures. 

Biometric signatures. Biometric signatures utilize unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints or facial recognition, to validate a signer's identity. Biometric signatures offer a high level of security and are particularly useful in scenarios where identity verification is crucial. 


Legal framework and compliance 

The acceptance and adoption of eSignatures has been facilitated by a robust legal framework at global and regional levels. Countries around the globe have recognized the need to accommodate digital transactions and have enacted laws to provide legal validity to e-signatures. In the United States, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) establish the legal basis for e-signatures and grant them the same legal status as traditional ink signatures in most cases. And, in the UK, the eIDAS Regulation sets a unified standard for e-signatures, ensuring their recognition and enforceability across member states. 

Despite the growing acceptance of e-signatures, questions about their legal validity and enforceability persist. However, the legal frameworks in place explicitly recognize the legitimacy of eSignatures, provided they meet specific requirements. These requirements typically include the signer's intent to sign, consent to use an electronic signature, and a process to capture and retain the signature securely. E-signature solutions that adhere to these criteria ensure that the signatures are legally binding and enforceable in a court of law. 


Use cases 

Different industries and use cases have unique compliance requirements for e-signatures, necessitating the use of specific e-signature solutions tailored to their needs. Industries dealing with sensitive data, such as healthcare or financial services, must comply with strict data protection regulations.  

In real estate transactions, compliance may involve adhering to state or regional regulations for electronic documents and signatures. Additionally, specific use cases like remote online notarizations (RON) require e-signature solutions that align with notarial laws and standards. 

Government agencies often require citizens to fill out various forms and applications for services, permits, and licenses. E-signatures streamline this process by allowing citizens to sign and submit forms electronically. This reduces paperwork, eliminates the need for in-person visits, and expedites service delivery. 

E-signatures enable governments to digitize and sign official documents, such as public records, agreements, and interagency communications. This ensures the authenticity and integrity of important documents while streamlining their management. And, remote online notarization (RON) using e-signatures allows citizens to remotely notarize documents without physically visiting a notary public. This convenience is particularly useful for citizens in remote areas or during times when physical interactions are limited. 

 In the realm of remote and online business, e-signatures simplify the process of closing sales and customer contracts. By selecting reputable e-signature providers that comply with global and regional regulations and cater to industry-specific needs, businesses can confidently embrace e-signatures to streamline their processes, enhance security, and ensure legal validity across a wide range of transactions. 


Advantages of Using eSignature 

eSignatures are the gateway to efficient and secure digital signing. The benefits of using eSignatures are significant and multifaceted: 

1. Simple and Easy 

Capturing electronic signatures is hassle-free and can be seamlessly integrated into existing business processes. 

2. Customizable 

Branding the e-sign process enhances brand visibility and promotes high completion rates. 

3. Flexible 

eSignatures can be used as a standalone solution or seamlessly integrated into web and mobile applications, as well as core systems. 

4. Trackable 

Comprehensive audit trails allow you to track the entire agreement process, ensuring strong identity assurance. 

 5. Secure 

Built-in anti-tampering controls and digital signature technology ensure the security of each signature. 

6. Globally compliant 

Governments and international bodies have recognized the legality of eSignatures, making them legally binding and equivalent to traditional ink signatures in most cases. 

7. Authenticate signer's identity 

Various authentication methods, such as email, SMS text codes, and ID verification, enhance security and trust in the eSignature process.  


Embracing the future of your business with eSignatures 

eSignatures have emerged as a game-changing solution in the digital age, revolutionizing the way we sign agreements, contracts, and legal documents. By addressing the pain points of traditional signatures and offering unmatched convenience, efficiency, and security, eSignatures have gained widespread acceptance across diverse industries.  

Embracing eSignatures not only enhances business productivity but also contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future by reducing paper consumption. As legal frameworks and regulations continue to support their validity, eSignatures are destined to become an integral part of modern business practices. 

So, whether you're an individual or a business owner, don't miss the opportunity to unlock the power of eSignatures and embark on a seamless digital signing experience. The future of signatures is here, and it's electronic! To learn more about eSignature and to determine if Conga Sign is the best eSignature solution for your business, ask for a free demo, and see the Conga Sign difference for yourself! Conga Sign is a secure and modern eSignature solution built to use via API, web application, or with your Salesforce instance.  

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