Across the board, businesses are going digital. They’re transforming customer-facing transactions and the customer experience as a whole by shifting away from paper and toward the adoption of electronic signatures across the enterprise. In addition, processes like contracting, HR, invoicing, and more are achieving rapid gains in efficiency and drastic reductions in cost thanks to widespread acceptance of electronic signature in the market.
- What is an electronic signature?
- What are the benefits of electronic signature?
- How does an electronic signature work?
- What is electronic signature used for?
- Is electronic signature legally binding?
- What are the different types of electronic signatures?
- Electronic signature vendor qualification best practices
- Electronic signature FAQ
- Get Started with OneSpan Sign Electronic Signature
What is an electronic signature?
An Electronic signature, or e-signature is a legal concept, much like their paper equivalent, and defined by the US Federal ESIGN Act as ”an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record."
The function of an electronic signature is to capture the intent of the signer to be bound by the terms and conditions in a contract. Electronic signature software is designed to capture legally-enforceable signatures online.
Generally, it is about having a lasting record of an individual’s intent. Digital signature refers to the encryption technology used in a number of e-business and e-commerce applications, including electronic signature.
There are generally three types of electronic signatures recognized around the world: Basic, Advanced, and Qualified. See details below.
The Beginner's Guide to Electronic Signatures
This comprehensive, 31-page beginner’s guide to electronic signatures introduces important legal concepts and key considerations when creating digital business processes with e-signatures.
Are electronic signature legally binding?
Yes, OneSpan Sign’s electronic signature is legally binding and enforceable in countries that have enacted electronic signature laws.
Electronic signature created using our solution comply with both the U.S. ESIGN Act and UETA. OneSpan Sign electronic signature also comply with Regulation No 910/2014 on Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation (eIDAS) in the European Union.
For a legal opinion on the enforceability of e-signatures in any given country and any local data residency requirements, consult your legal counsel.
Are electronic signatures legal in the United States?
Yes.Today, long after the passing of ESIGN and UETA, there is no longer any question about whether electronic signatures are legal. Federal and state law gives electronic signature the same legal status as handwritten signatures.
E-SIGN & UETA
The federal Electronic Signatures in Global (ESIGN) and the state Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) give legal recognition for electronic signature and records to satisfy the “in writing” legal requirements for transactions and permit companies to satisfy statutory record retention requirements solely through the use of electronic records.
These Acts essentially enable organizations to adopt a uniform electronic signature process across nearly every states with the assurance that records cannot be refused by a court of law solely on the basis that they were signed electronically.
These US laws are technology-neutral and do not favor any one type of technology over another, but it is important to note. UETA applies to 47 of 50 states. Washington, Illinois, and New York have developed their own e-signature legislation.
Are electronic signatures legal in Canada?
Yes. Similar to US UETA laws, Canadian provincial electronic signature laws give the same legal status as handwritten signatures.
In a report entitled Electronic Signatures in Canadian Law, Stikeman Elliott LLP states, “All the provinces and territories have stand-alone e-commerce statutes of general application based on model laws promulgated by the U.N. and the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. While there are some variations, the provincial e-commerce statutes generally stipulate that signatures, documents and originals are not invalid or unenforceable by reason only of being in electronic form.” The Canadian provincial laws are technology-neutral.
The Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) also documents the processes covered in Federal laws and regulations that apply to federally-regulated entities (FRE), as well as any documents and processes used within the Federal government. The Act provides for use of Basic and Advanced Electronic Signature while limiting secure electronic signature to a small number of applications. Secure Electronic Signature (equivalent to a Qualified Electronic Signature) is required for certain documents and processes, and requires the use of digital certificates in such cases.
Are electronic signatures legal in Europe?
Yes. Directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament (also referred to as the EU Directive) was replaced in 2016 by the eIDAS regulation as the prevailing legislation on e-signatures in Europe. The move was made to accelerate the digital transformation of Europe. eIDAS maintains the definitions of the three different kinds of e-signatures outlined earlier in this ebook, but has a few unique characteristics of its own.
- eIDAS is a regulation. Unlike the Directive, it applies equally to each EU Member State.
- eIDAS notes that signatures leveraging cloud-based systems can fit under the definition of a Qualified Signature.
- eIDAS establishes automatic recognition of the Qualified E-Signature across the EU.
- eIDAS also establishes recognition for the Basic and Advanced signatures as well (as described earlier in the eBook).
- eIDAS will serve to accelerate digital transformations in countries across Europe.
- eIDAS and E-Signatures in Europe: A Legal Perspective with Lorna Brazell, IP Lawyer, Osborne Clarke
Are electronic signatures legal in Australia?
Yes. In 1999, the Australian Parliament passed the Electronic Transactions Act, which was amended in 2011.
The Electronic Transactions Act gives electronic signatures the same legal status as handwritten signatures. According to the Australian government, “If a Commonwealth law requires you to give information in writing, provide a handwritten signature, produce a document in material form, or record or retain information, the Electronic Transactions Act means you can do these things electronically.”
The law is technology-neutral and requires a person’s consent to conduct business electronically. Each state and territory also has their own Electronic Transactions Act, which is very similar to the Commonwealth’s act.
• View Australia’s electronic transactions legislation by state and territory
Are electronic signatures legal in Japan?
Yes. Japan’s Law Concerning Electronic Signatures and Certification Services has been in effect since 2001. Japan recognizes the legal enforceability of two types of electronic signature used worldwide:
- Advanced E-Signatures
- Qualified E-Signatures
Note that in Japan, using a red seal or stamp instead of a handwritten signature is common practice when signing personal and business documents. However, the law supports the use of electronic signatures without the use of a seal or stamp.
Security for electronic signatures and electronic transactions: Vendor qualification best practices
User Identity, authentication, and attribution
Flexible user identification methods:
|Ability to upload images as part of the e-sign transaction (e.g. photo of a driver’s license)|
Flexible user authentication methods:
|Ability to configure different authentication methods within the same transaction|
Flexibility to adapt the authentication method to:
Flexible options for in-person signature attribution:
|Integration with strong, multi-factor authentication solutions (i.e., OneSpan's Digipass)|
|Ability to sign using client-side certificates ("qualified certificates" under eIDAS) associated to an individual person|
Document and signature security
Audit trail information must be securely embedded in the document.
First, document authenticity can be verified independently of the electronic signature software, meaning you do not need to worry if a verification link back to a server will be valid years from now.
Whether or not you maintain an account on the e-signature service, or whether your vendor is even still in business, your documents are not affected since you, your customers, and other stakeholders do not have to go online to check the document.
|The document and EACH signature must be secured with a digital signature|
|A comprehensive audit trail should include the date and time of EACH signature|
|The audit trail must be securely embedded in the document and linked to each signature|
|One-click signature and document verification (e.g., ability to verify documents and signatures offline, without going to a website)|
|Ability to download a verifiable copy of the signed record with the audit trail|
Cloud and data security
Flexibility in deployment methods to align with your IT and data security policies:
|SOC 2 and FedRAMP compliant electronic signature solution|
|Publishes security practices, certifications and the results of security audit|
|Has a consistent track record of keeping customer data secure|
|Global data centers to satisfy in-country data residency requirement|
Get Started with OneSpan Sign Electronic Signatures
Securely send and e-sign documents ‘out of the box’ or fully integrate electronic signature with your applications or core systems.
No matter which OneSpan Sign plan you choose, you’ll get an electronic signature solution that balances ease of use with the highest levels of security and compliance, while giving you the option to easily customize the electronic signature solution for your brand and unique business and IT requirements.
How can I get started with OneSpan Sign electronic signatures?
What customers are saying about our Electronic Signature Solutions
The strongest feature of [OneSpan Sign] is the flexibility of the platform. There are many options to configure and tailor the experience to the customer’s needs. And the integration / connectors make it really easy for users to get up and running.
Get documents e-signed anytime, anywhere, on any device while keeping the spotlight on your brand
Provide customers with the most seamless experience to promote high adoption and completion rates. Optimized for desktop and mobile signing right ’out of the box’, while enabling you to fully customize the workflows and screens to create a unique and trusted experience. That includes white-labeling at no extra charge.
Secure Electronic Signatures
Secure your documents and online signature using military-grade, digital signature technology
OneSpan Sign guarantees document integrity by applying a digital signature and tamper seal after each person has signed, and then automatically detecting if a change is made in between signers. And unlike other providers, OneSpan Sign embeds the audit trail directly in the document, enabling you to instantly verify it with just one click.
Accurate Audit Trails
Prove your compliance and deflect legal disputes with the most comprehensive audit trails
Capture the step-by-step signing workflow as seen and experienced by your customers. Our patented “visual” audit trail reproduces all web screens, legal disclosures, and documents that were presented, as well as how long signers took at each step. This makes it faster and less costly to prove what happened.
Our electronic signature platform gives you the flexibility to choose how and where you want to deploy the service
Implement electronic signature as a shared service across your divisions and global operations for a quicker time-to-market. OneSpan Sign provides the most scalable platform and integration framework, allowing you to scale the use of electronic signature across your lines of business, use cases, and channels – both locally and abroad.
Cost Savings You Can See
Get Transparent Pricing with No Nickel and Diming, No Hidden Fees, and No Surprise Price Increases
Unlike other electronic signature providers, you won’t see an astronomical price increase at the end of your contract. We work closely with you to review your consumption needs and help you scale your model in the most cost-effective manner. What’s more, if your needs and volume change before your contract is up, we’ll re-assess the terms so that you maintain a cost-effective solution – today and tomorrow.
Start e-signing with our web app, mobile app, and pre-built connectors
Sign up for the OneSpan Sign web application and get your documents out for signature in minutes. Simply upload your document, add your recipients, then send your document for signing. No hardware or software investment required.
3rd Party Connectors
OneSpan Sign offers pre-built e-signature connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Laserfiche, Nintex, Pega Systems, Box, Salesforce CPQ, and other third-party applications. No coding required.