3 Misconceptions About E-Signatures

Mary Ellen Power, February 5, 2014

E-signatures pack so much promise that it can be easy to think the benefits they offer are too good to be true. People may find it hard to believe that an enterprise-class e-signature solution is able to securely create an electronic record that is legally viable, backed by encryption technologies, archivable and capable of standing up in court. The uncertainty is understandable what with so many options available to businesses, and has led to many misconceptions about e-signatures. We'll look at a few of the most common ones here:

1. E-signatures are the same as digital signatures

An e-signature and a digital signature are two entirely different entities. The confusion is understandable, as electronic and digital are often used interchangeably, however, it's important to distinguish between the two.

An e-signature is defined by the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act as "an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to, or associated with, a contract or other record and adopted by a person with the intent to sign a record." This clearly delineates an e-signature as a legal concept. On the other hand, the term digital signature refers to the encryption/decryption technology behind an electronic signature solution.

2. E-signatures are not legal

New technology comes with questions about how it will apply in tried and tested processes. With e-signatures, many of the questions have focused on whether or not courts of law will accept the technology as evidence and what businesses must do to ensure e-signatures are considered valid. Legal uncertainty may have been an issue a few years ago, but the wide range of legal cases have not only set a precedent for how e-signatures can be used in courts, but also for how organizations can set up their processes to ensure they are legally sound.

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3. E-signatures are not secure

Concerns about security abound with any technology because the world has seen so much damage done by hackers that it is easy to mistrust something electronic compared to its paper counterpart. However, enterprise-class e-signature technology is designed in such a way that the moment a document is signed, it is impossible to alter without tamper-evident measures displaying. Any change to the document is automatically highlighted, making it impossible to compromise the integrity of the document.

Businesses have an opportunity to use emerging electronic documentation solutions to improve a wide range of processes in departments ranging from accounting to human resources. E-signatures are at the center of innovation in this field and can help businesses of all sizes cut costs, improve operational efficiency, reduce the amount of time spent completing signature processes and create a solid legal foundation for all of their signature documentation efforts.

Still have questions about e-signatures? Check out our frequently asked question page to learn more about e-signature solutions and demystify any of the uncertainties you still have about documentation process.