Why E-Signatures Can End 50 Years of Fax

Mary Ellen Power, January 29, 2014

The emergence of the digital society has claimed its fair share of technology casualties in recent years, many of them that were once deemed to be cutting edge or even irreplaceable. The music industry, for example, no longer relies on physical product to sell units, while the art of writing a letter to friends or family has, sadly, long been replaced by emails and even texting.

However, fifty years after its introduction into the workplace, the fax machine remains a part of the business world, with numerous companies or professions still relying on a paper-based device to send and receive documents. And with digital forms of communication now prevalent in almost all business transactions or agreements, it appears that time may finally be up for this long-standing piece of office equipment.

Faxing is an unsecured form of communication

Fax machines, by their very nature, normally sit in unsecured parts of an office environment and a printed fax can be picked up by anybody passing by. They can rely on the person sending the fax to be physically present when entering the phone number of the intended recipient and, more often than not, a confirmation of receipt is not instantly available. This is neither secure nor efficient.

Faxing can cause compliance issues

Have you ever tried to read the signature on a page that has been printed, faxed, signed and re-faxed again? Better yet, have you only received the signature page back on a 15-page disclosure agreement? Illegible signatures and signatures unassociated with accompanying disclosures aren't compliant with most industry regulations, making faxing a dangerous risk for your business to take. There is also the fact that digital documents cannot be altered once signed electronically - not without visible detection - and while a fax can look legitimate, there is no concrete way to prove that the person or company who signed the document is who they say they are.

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Faxing slows the speed of business

The growth of the PC and now mobile technology as a preferred means of communication has fueled a need for digital messaging without compromise. At the same time, the increasing speed of business and ever growing regulatory landscape point to the need for technology that helps close business faster with fewer to no errors and with enforceable workflow rules. This ensures a business can compete as margins reduce and stay compliant now and into the future.

Electronic signatures built on digital signature technology have rapidly become the best means of doing just that – one company reports shortening the time to closing business from weeks to hours, and a 100 percent increase in revenue.

Switching to E-Signatures

Even long-term advocates of faxing such as the real estate, health care and legal industries are turning to e-signatures as the preferred means of obtaining secure documentation, especially when taking into account the fact that paper has a propensity for being lost or misfiled. E-signatures can provide all parties with not only a demonstrated audit trail of who signed what and when, but also a cloud-based backup of that documentation - an essential component in any business or personal transaction.

For more information on e-signatures and how they compare to your faithful fax machine, please visit our frequently asked questions page.