Signatures Throughout History - E-Signatures Expand

Mary Ellen Power, July 3, 2014

The first decade of the new millennium was a period of emergence for electronic signature software. This was followed in 2011 with a landmark court decision that added validity to e-signature collection and officially recognized the signing method as equivalent of pen and ink signatures. These foundational elements of the e-signature movement were followed by two key events in 2013 and 2014 that show electronic signatures as a rapidly rising technology.

2013 - IRS Accepts Electronic Signatures

Pretty much everybody hates doing their taxes and, let's face it, the paperwork was getting old well before 2013. The Internal Revenue Service had options in place for online filing, but the agency was still figuring out precisely how it would navigate this space to create the best end-user experience without sacrificing security or creating opportunities for fraud or risk.

Electronic Signature

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Preventing fraud is a major issue for the IRS as there are man ways for people to work around tax laws by falsifying their identity or otherwise working around rules. As such, the IRS needed to make sure whatever methods it uses to verify a signee and have that person understand the contract they were agreeing too are up to the task. This creates an environment in which the IRS choosing to adopt e-signatures represents a key step forward for the technology as a valid option.

Furthermore, collecting taxes can get expensive. The IRS deciding to adopt e-signatures isn't just a sign that the technology is hitting the big time, it also shows how valuable the solution can be for organizations.

2014 - FHA expands e-signature use

The Federal Housing Administration has taken a gradual process to using e-signature solutions, adopting them where possible and taking time to figure out if the technology is applicable in other places. In 2014, this strategy escalated as the organization began allowing lenders to start using e-signatures in association with forms pertaining to mortgage loans. This represented a huge step forward as loan processes can be incredibly complex, with mortgage borrowers often having to deal with large amounts of paperwork that must be mailed over long distances over the entire course of a deal.

The past couple of years have cemented the growing role of e-signatures as major national entities have begun using the technology for incredibly important documents. There are many ways organizations can use e-signatures to improve their processes. Check out our beginner's guide to learn the best ways to get started with e-signatures.