The pandemic has been a time of rapid acceleration in everything from future of work trends to the basics of how we do business. There were numerous issues caused by business and government offices moving online, and all of them shared one common problem — how do you sign a document when you can't be there in person?
The solution is eSigning, also known as digital signing. It's not a new solution, but it is at the core of many digital transformation projects.
When we think about digital transformations, they're often processes done by pen and paper that can be moved to an online form or a mobile app. Sometimes it's taking something like a legacy spreadsheet and turning it into a modern, cloud-based app. Capturing a person's signature is required for many of these processes, and there are multiple solutions that can be used to integrate this in a web or mobile app solution.
In this post, we're going to break down what makes a digital signature legit, what you should look for in a digital signature tool, and compare three top eSigning services.
What is a digital signature?
Digital signatures are more than just you using a stylus or finger to sign a document — they’re a secure, digital equivalent that offer a great level of validity compared to ink-based signatures. How many times have you signed a credit card receipt without the merchant actually checking to see if the signatures match?
Digital signatures work because they -
- Track who signed an electronic document using an email address and IP address.
- Are encrypted and securely stored.
- Provide a digital trail in the event of an audit
What makes a digital signature legally binding?
Before we get into this, we need to clarify that we're not lawyers. Like any contract, you should have a legal professional review of what you're doing.
Signing on the digital dotted line
To make an electronic document legal, you need to disclose all clauses that the signature applies to so the person signing understands the document's intent. The electronic document needs to have a clause that the signer can acknowledge their consent to sign the document electronically.
Keeping things together
The digital signature has to be stored securely with the document and not in a separate location. The signed digital copies need to be kept in the event of a dispute or question on the document.
Tracking who signed what
The signer of the document needs to receive a copy of the document and their digital signature.
In addition to that, the eSigning service needs to have a digital audit trail with a timestamp, an email address associated with the signer, and an IP address.
What to look for in an eSigning tool
The three eSigning services we reviewed all offer comparable features. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Does the service meet HIPPA, SOC2, and other compliance regulations?
- Where are the services data storage? The location is important for implementations that have geographic restrictions.
- What's the maximum size of electronic documents the service will accept?
- Does the service have an API?
Tale of the tape
We took a look at the three leading eSigning service providers — Docusign, Onespan, and Hellosign — and have broken down what you need to know to help you make the right decision for your project.