Digital transformation is essential for staying competitive. However, many companies face challenges in integrating e-signature solutions...
Everything you need to know about the electronic signature
In an increasingly digital world, electronic signature has become an essential tool for both businesses and individuals. It allows for secure and fast signing of documents online, without the need for printing, scanning, or sending paper copies.
We will explain EVERYTHING about electronic signatures: their legal framework, when and how to use them, and what this will change for you in your daily life. 👇🏽
What is an electronic signature? 🖊️
In simple terms, an e-signature is the electronic version of a handwritten signature. An electronic signature can refer to several signing actions such as checking a box, typing your initials or name, inserting an image of your handwritten signature, or using a digital signature based on cryptography: in other words, actions that signify your intention to sign.
Therefore, an electronic signature can be created using various methods such as entering a PIN code, biometric signature, digitized handwritten signature, or cryptographic signature.
It is often used to simplify the signing process and facilitate the management of documents in a completely paperless manner.
Good to know:
There are three levels of electronic signatures:
simple (level 1): corresponds to the lowest level of security and identification of the signatory;
advanced (level 2): requires the upload of an ID card to validate the signature;
qualified (level 3): represents the highest level of electronic security and authentication. It guarantees the signatory's digital identity through the issuance of a qualified electronic signature certificate.
Each of these types of electronic signatures offers a different level of security depending on the method of signature creation and verification. As you can imagine, all of these types of electronic signatures have varying levels of security and legal differences.
The legal aspect to consider ⚖️
The legal validity of an electronic signature generally depends on compliance with various regulations.
In Belgium, the law that governs electronic signatures is the Law of 21 July 2016 on electronic signatures (LSCE), which was adopted to transpose the European Directive 1999/93/EC on electronic signatures. The LSCE recognizes the legal validity of the electronic signature, provided that it meets the necessary security conditions to ensure its integrity, authenticity, and reliability. It is the LSCE that has defined the three types of signatures mentioned above (simple, advanced, and qualified).
There are also other legislative texts such as the eIDAS Regulation of the European Union on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market. eIDAS clearly defines the criteria that an e-signature must meet to access the status of legally accepted alternative to the physical signature. The electronic signature can be considered valid if it is:
Based on a qualified electronic signature certificate, issued by a qualified trust service provider. For example, the company Connective, which offers an e-signature solution that complies with European standards;
Made with a secure means of creating electronic signatures;
Uniquely linked to the person who creates it;
Able to identify that person;
Created with electronic signature creation data that the signatory can use under their exclusive control.
It is important to note that the electronic signature is also admitted as evidence before the courts.
Now that you have understood what the e-signature is, you are probably wondering:
When to use electronic signature?⌛
To illustrate the moments when you can choose to use an electronic signature, here are some examples:
✅ Tax documents
✅ Banking documents
✅ Insurance documents
✅ Audit reports
✅ Insurance policies
✅ Non-disclosure agreements
✅ Official documents
✅ Medical documents
✅ Employment contracts
✅ Annual reports
✅ Engagement letters
✅ Non-disclosure agreements
✅ Loan agreements
✅ Lease agreements
✅ Commercial contracts
✅ Auto lease agreements
On the other hand, electronic signatures cannot be used for:
❌ Notarized documents
❌ Real estate sales deeds
❌ Donation deeds
How to use it?🤔
The electronic signature uses cryptographic technologies (which secure communications by transforming information into a secret code so that it cannot be read by unauthorized persons) to guarantee the integrity, authenticity, and non-repudiation of a signed electronic document. Here are the main steps to using the electronic signature:
Step 1: Obtain a digital device
Since the electronic signature is an online operation, you need to have a computer, smartphone, or tablet to sign digitally.
Step 2: Choose the right electronic signature tool
There are many electronic signature solutions, such as AdobeSign, DocuSign, HelloSign, SignNow, and Penbox Sign! You must choose an electronic signature provider that is suitable for the specific needs of your business.
Here are some criteria to consider to help you choose a provider:
Security: Make sure the provider uses robust security protocols to protect sensitive data from your business.
Easy to use: Choose a provider that offers a user-friendly and easy-to-use interface for you and your customers.
Integration: If your company already uses document management or contract management applications, make sure the electronic signature provider you choose can easily integrate with these applications.
Pricing: The costs associated with using an electronic signature provider can vary significantly. Compare offers from different providers to find the one that best fits your budget.
Customer support: Make sure the electronic signature provider you choose offers responsive and efficient customer support to help you in case of problems.
Step 3: Generate the document to be signed
Before signing a document, you must first generate it. To do this, you simply need to create commercial agreements. For each form, remember to indicate the names, email addresses, and telephone contacts of the signatories before sending your document to be signed.
Step 4: Sign electronically
The signatories receive a link by email or SMS inviting them to sign the relevant documents. The signatories must then click on the link and authenticate themselves on the user interface to access the document.
It only remains to place the signature where indicated and click on "Finish" to save the signed document. Once the procedure is completed, a confirmation email is sent. The signed documents are then available within your client space.
Why switch to an electronic signature?🔥
The electronic signature provides many benefits, such as:
Security: the electronic signature uses an advanced encryption process that guarantees the authenticity of the signed document.
Speed: the electronic signature allows documents to be signed online quickly and efficiently, without the need to travel or send paper copies. Additionally, automatic reminders can be sent to your clients, saving you time and hassle in having to contact them to remind them to sign the document.
Efficiency: the electronic signature simplifies the signing process, reducing costs and time required to sign documents, and boosting your ROI by improving collaboration.
Traceability: the electronic signature allows for the tracking of signature history, showing who signed the document and when.
Integrity: it is easy to detect any modifications made to transmitted contents, reducing the risk of interception by hackers, as mentioned earlier in this post.
Non-repudiation: guarantee (in the legal sense) of the origin of the electronic signature, thereby providing a means for the signature to obtain public trust, as in the legal framework.
In conclusion, the electronic signature is a valuable tool for businesses and individuals. It allows for the quick, efficient, and secure signing of documents, offering many advantages. Whether it is for signing contracts, confidentiality agreements, administrative or medical documents, the electronic signature is a wise choice for anyone looking to simplify their signing process.
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