IT office business

The use of e-signatures is expected to at least double in the coming year as a result of the drive to provide a better customer experience.

“E-signatures aren’t new, but I’m amazed at how businesses are using the technology to transform the way they serve customers,” said Jim Love, CIO of ITWC and host of a recent Introduction to Electronic Signatures for Canada webinar.

Sponsored by eSignLive, the session reviewed the trends, terms and technology for companies considering e-signature solutions.

Customer Convenience is Trending:

Forrester Research predicts that the use of e-signatures will grow by 53 per cent by 2017. However, David Bocek, Business Development with eSignLive, said that’s probably a conservative estimate because he’s seeing a higher growth rate in his own customer base.

“The overwhelming priority for these companies is to automate their customer-facing processes,” he said. This is a key driver for the financial services sector, he noted. “They want to be able to offer the convenience of applying for a loan or opening an account from anywhere, anytime, and on any device.” In real estate, the ability to have documents signed remotely is saving a ton of time for agents and their clients, Bocek said.

Companies are also adopting e-signatures to gain operational efficiency and faster processing times. This avoids the paper process of printing, signing and scanning, said Bocek.  It also eliminates errors and missing data so that customers never have to revisit the paperwork.

Securing the Signatures

The security of a digital signature solution is fundamental to ensuring its legal enforceability, said Patrick Albert, Business Architect with eSignLive.

The law requires evidence of intent to sign, authentication of the customer, and a way to verify who actually clicked the signature button.  Authentication may be done through email, or a second layer can be added by generating a PIN number unique to the user.

Once a document is signed, it is cryptographically sealed so that it can’t be altered. In case of a dispute, a detailed audit trail is needed to ensure that all of the legal requirements were met.

Electronic processes can confirm what was signed, but also how it was signed, said Albert. For example, he noted that the eSignLive solution will capture detailed information about the “signing event”, such as:  all of the pages the signor saw; how long the signor spent reviewing each page, where the signor clicked and his or her IP address. This provides “rock solid evidence of the signing process” and a “guarantee” that the document has not changed, said Albert. This information is embedded in the document so that it can be easily accessed by the business, he added.

Getting Started

Bocek said it’s very easy to get started with an e-signature solution. It can be hosted on public or private clouds, or on premises, as needed, said Bocek.  As well, businesses can opt to go with a standalone service, or one that is integrated with some or all of their business applications.  It’s flexible to each use case, he added.

“It’s a strategic technology,” said Love.  “In our competitive economy, it’s a way to offer more efficient and convenient service to customers.”