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What is an eSignature and why do you need one?

20 August, 2023 · 5 min read·Contracts & eSignature
What is an eSignature and why do you need one?
Learn all about eSignatures in our latest blog post. Discover what they are, why you need one, and how they can streamline your document signing process efficiently.

Nowadays, eSignatures are an essential tool for businesses and individuals alike. It’s no wonder the number of businesses using eSignatures have grown by 50%

Using eSignatures can streamline your document signing processes, improve security, save time and resources, and contribute to a more sustainable future. You'll learn about eSignatures, their benefits, popular eSignature solutions, and how to use them in your workflow in this article. Let’s dive in!

What is an eSignature?

eSignatures are digital representations of a person's signature that can be used to sign documents electronically. With eSignatures, people and businesses can sign and authenticate documents electronically instead of printing, scanning, and shipping physical documents. You can sign contracts, agreements, forms, and invoices online.

The importance of signatures in daily life

We all depend on signatures, whether we realize it or not. From signing contracts and legal agreements to approving official documents and authorizing transactions, signatures serve as proof of consent, identity, and agreement. Without signatures, it would be challenging to establish legal validity and trust in various personal and professional interactions.

Advantages of using digital signatures

Digital signatures have several advantages over paper ones. Using a computer or mobile device, users can sign documents anytime, anywhere, using a digital signature. Additionally, they offer enhanced security and authentication since they can incorporate encryption and verification to ensure the signer's authenticity. Last but not least, digital signatures save time and resources by eliminating manual paperwork and reducing printing, shipping, and storage costs.

Understanding eSignatures

Key components and technologies behind eSignatures

eSignatures rely on various technologies and components to ensure their authenticity and security. These include encryption algorithms, digital certificates, and secure authentication methods. To verify the identity of the signer and ensure the integrity of a document, the eSignature software creates a unique digital certificate for the signer. Signed documents are protected from unauthorized access and tampering with encryption.

Different types of eSignatures

There are several types of eSignatures available, each with its own level of security and acceptance. Digital signatures are the most secure type of eSignature, utilizing encryption and public key infrastructure (PKI) technology to ensure authenticity and integrity. Electronic signatures, on the other hand, encompass a broader range of methods, including scanned, typed, or drawn signatures, as well as click-to-sign or checkbox options.

Online signatures refer to the process of signing documents electronically through web-based platforms or applications. These platforms often provide additional features such as document storage, tracking, and collaboration. It is important to note that while all eSignatures are legally binding in many jurisdictions, the level of acceptance and enforceability may vary depending on local laws and regulations.

Understanding what eSignatures are and how they work is crucial. These electronic alternatives to traditional wet signatures offer convenience, security, and efficiency. Whether it's signing a contract or approving a document, eSignatures streamline the process, saving time and resources. 

Benefits of using eSignatures

Efficiency and time-saving advantages

eSignatures offer significant efficiency and time-saving advantages compared to traditional, paper-based signing processes. With an eSignature, you can sign important documents digitally and send them instantly, eliminating the need for printing, scanning, and physical transportation. This streamlined process reduces the time it takes to get documents signed, allowing for faster turnaround times and increased productivity. Additionally, eSignatures enable multiple parties to sign a document simultaneously, enhancing collaboration and eliminating delays caused by scheduling conflicts or physical distance.

Increased security and authentication

One of the key benefits of using eSignatures is the enhanced security and authentication they provide. Digital signature technology encrypts the document and creates a unique digital fingerprint, also known as a hash, that verifies the integrity of the document and ensures it has not been tampered with. 

Furthermore, eSignatures utilize advanced authentication methods, such as biometric recognition or one-time password verification, to confirm the identity of the signer. These robust security measures provide a higher level of confidence in the authenticity and integrity of electronically signed documents compared to traditional wet signatures.

Cost-saving and environmentally friendly aspects

Adopting eSignatures can yield significant cost savings for individuals and businesses alike. By eliminating the need for printing, shipping, and storing paper documents, you can reduce expenses associated with paper, ink, envelopes, and postage. Additionally, the time savings and increased efficiency achieved through eSignatures can result in cost savings by freeing up employees to focus on more productive tasks. 

Moreover, eSignatures contribute to a greener environment by reducing paper waste and carbon emissions produced by transportation and courier services. Embracing digital signatures not only benefits your bottom line but also aligns with sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals.

Enhanced convenience and accessibility

Incorporating eSignatures into your workflow provides enhanced convenience and accessibility for all parties involved. With eSignatures, signing documents can be done from anywhere and at any time, as long as you have an internet connection. This eliminates the need for in-person meetings or physically transporting documents, making it incredibly convenient for remote workers, clients in different time zones, or individuals with hectic schedules. 

Furthermore, eSignatures enable the use of mobile devices and tablets for signing, ensuring accessibility for people on the go. The ability to electronically sign documents at your convenience and on your preferred device adds flexibility and simplifies the signing process for all parties involved.

Engage clients fast

By leveraging the efficiency, security, cost-saving, and convenience aspects of eSignatures, individuals and businesses can transform their signing processes and experience a myriad of benefits. These benefits contribute to increased productivity, reduced costs, enhanced security, and improved customer satisfaction. 

Exploring eSignature solutions

Electronic signatures have become an essential tool for businesses and individuals alike. With the rise of digital transformation, there are now numerous eSignature providers available in the market. Below, we'll look at some popular eSignature solutions, compare their features, and discuss important things to consider when choosing one.

Popular eSignature providers

  1. Adobe Sign: Adobe Sign is one of the most widely recognized and trusted eSignature providers. It offers a comprehensive range of features, including customizable workflows, advanced security options, and integration with popular business productivity tools like Microsoft Office and Salesforce.
  2. DocuSign: DocuSign is another popular choice for eSignature solutions. It offers a user-friendly interface, robust security measures, and advanced features such as in-person signing and real-time document tracking. With its extensive integrations and partnerships, DocuSign enables seamless integration with various applications and business systems.
  3. Dropbox Sign: Dropbox Sign is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It provides a straightforward and intuitive interface, making it ideal for individuals and small businesses. Dropbox Sign offers features like document templates, audit trails, and smart fields for automating the signing process.

Comparing features and offerings

When selecting an eSignature solution, it's crucial to consider the specific needs and requirements of your business. Some important factors to consider include:

  1. Ease of use: Look for an eSignature solution that offers a user-friendly interface and intuitive signing process. This ensures that both you and your clients can easily navigate through the document signing process without any complications.
  2. Integrations: Consider an eSignature provider that seamlessly integrates with your existing software applications. Integration with popular tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, and CRM platforms can streamline your workflow and enhance productivity.
  3. Security and compliance: Ensure that the eSignature solution adheres to industry-standard security protocols and is compliant with regulations such as the eIDAS Regulation in the European Union and the ESIGN Act in the United States. Look for features like encryption, audit trail, and authentication options to safeguard your documents and provide legal validity.

Considerations when choosing an eSignature solution

Before finalizing your decision, there are a few other important considerations:

  1. Scalability: Consider the growth potential of your business and whether the chosen eSignature solution can scale accordingly. It should be able to accommodate a growing number of users, documents, and integrations as your business expands.
  2. Pricing: Evaluate the pricing plans and subscription options offered by different providers. Compare the features included in each plan and consider the overall value for money.
  3. Customer support: Check if the eSignature provider offers reliable and responsive customer support. Look for resources like knowledge bases, tutorials, and live chat options to ensure that any issues or queries can be addressed promptly.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the eSignature solution that best suits your needs and empowers you to streamline your document signing process effectively.

How to use eSignatures

Once you understand the benefits of using eSignatures and have chosen a suitable eSignature solution, it's time to learn how to effectively implement them in your document signing process. Follow these steps to create and use eSignatures efficiently:

Creating and using eSignatures

  1. Choose the document: Select the document that requires a signature and upload it onto the eSignature platform of your choice.
  2. Identify the signatories: Clearly indicate who needs to sign the document by entering their names and email addresses.
  3. Prepare the document: Format the document by adding signature fields, date fields, checkboxes, and text boxes where necessary. This ensures that all required information is included and easily accessible to the signatories.
  4. Send the document for signing: Once the document is ready, send a notification to the signatories, inviting them to review and sign the document electronically.
  5. Sign the document: When prompted, the signatories can digitally sign the document by using their mouse cursor, touchscreen, or an electronic stylus. They may also choose to type their name and have it converted into a signature font automatically.

Ensuring legality and enforcing eSigned documents

  1. Verify the identity: Many eSignature solutions offer identity verification options such as two-factor authentication, email verification, or SMS verification. Ensure that these measures are in place to confirm the identity of the signatories.
  2. Obtain informed consent: Before signing, it is crucial to inform the signatories about the legal implications of their electronic signature. Include a clear statement outlining their understanding and acceptance of this fact.
  3. Maintain an audit trail: An audit trail is a chronological record of all activities related to a document, including who accessed it, when it was modified, and when it was signed. This can serve as evidence in case of disputes or legal challenges.
  4. Consider local regulations: Familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations governing eSignatures. Understand the legal requirements specific to your region and ensure that your eSignature solution complies with them.

Integrating eSignatures into your existing workflow

  1. Identify opportunities for integration: Evaluate your existing workflows and identify areas where eSignatures can be seamlessly integrated. This could include contracts, agreements, invoices, onboarding documents, and more.
  2. Integrate with other software: Look for eSignature solutions that offer integrations with other software you use regularly, such as document management systems, project management platforms, and CRM tools. This allows for easy transfer of documents and automates the signing process.
  3. Train employees: Provide comprehensive training to employees on how to use the eSignature solution effectively. Ensure that they understand the benefits, the process involved, and any specific guidelines or legal requirements.
  4. Monitor and evaluate: Continuously monitor the usage and effectiveness of eSignatures in your workflow. Collect feedback from employees and clients to identify any areas for improvement. Regularly assess the impact of eSignatures on efficiency, security, and cost savings.

By following these steps and integrating eSignatures into your workflow, you can streamline your document signing process, enhance security, and ensure legal compliance with ease.

Future of eSignatures

Current trends in eSignature technology

With the digital transformation accelerating across various industries, eSignature technology is also evolving to meet the demands of businesses and individuals. Some of the current trends in eSignature technology include:

  1. Mobile-friendly solutions: As smartphones and tablets continue to dominate the market, eSignature providers are focusing on developing mobile-friendly apps and interfaces. This allows users to conveniently sign documents on the go, without the need for a desktop computer.
  2. Integration with cloud services: Many eSignature solutions now offer seamless integration with popular cloud storage platforms, like Google Drive and Dropbox. This allows users to easily access, sign, and store their documents directly from their preferred cloud service.
  3. Advanced authentication methods: To enhance the security of eSignature transactions, providers are implementing advanced authentication methods. This includes biometric authentication through fingerprint or facial recognition technology, as well as multi-factor authentication to ensure that only authorized individuals can sign documents.

Impact of eSignatures on various industries

The adoption of eSignatures has had a significant impact on various industries, streamlining processes and improving efficiency. Here are a few examples of how eSignatures have transformed specific sectors:

  1. Finance and banking: The financial industry has widely adopted eSignatures for loan applications, account openings, and other financial transactions. This has eliminated the need for physical paperwork and enabled faster processing times, resulting in an improved customer experience.
  2. Real estate: In the real estate industry, eSignatures have revolutionized the way contracts and agreements are signed. Agents and clients can now securely sign documents remotely, reducing the time and effort required for in-person meetings and document exchanges.
  3. Healthcare: eSignatures have streamlined administrative processes in healthcare, allowing patients to electronically sign consent forms, release information forms, and other medical documents. This has improved the speed and accuracy of document processing while maintaining patient privacy.

Predictions for the growth and adoption of eSignatures

The future of eSignatures looks promising, with continued growth and widespread adoption anticipated in the coming years. Here are a few predictions for the future of eSignatures:

  1. Increased global acceptance: As more countries pass legislation recognizing the legal validity of eSignatures, the global acceptance and adoption of eSignatures will continue to rise. This will lead to greater convenience and efficiency in international transactions.
  2. Expanded integration with AI and automation: The integration of eSignature technology with artificial intelligence and automation will further streamline document signing processes. AI-powered features such as auto-fill and document classification will enhance user experience and accuracy.
  3. Enhanced security measures: With data security and privacy becoming increasingly crucial, eSignature providers will likely invest in advanced security measures. This may include blockchain technology for secure and tamper-proof document storage and verification.

Leverage B12’s eSignature tool to simplify the signing process

As technology continues to advance, eSignatures will undoubtedly play a significant role in the future of document signing. With their efficiency, security, and environmental benefits, eSignatures are poised to become the standard method of signing documents across industries and individuals alike. By embracing eSignature solutions, businesses and individuals can streamline their workflows, save costs, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

B12 presents the perfect partner for streamlining your digital signature needs. Our eSignatures tool conveniently allows you to receive digital signatures. With our eSignatures solution, you can sign and finalize contracts with ease. Plus, you won’t have to leave the B12 platform! 

B12 is an all-in-one platform for professional services. Attract leads, win business, and serve clients online with a professional site, scheduling, payments, intake, and more. Sign up for free today.

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