Today, electronic signatures are finally being used across most industries. Although, credit card companies have been using electronic signatures ever since self-serve terminals were installed next to cash registers. Finally, the rest of the business world is waking up to the convenience of using e-signatures.
E-signatures are a convenient substitute when doing business remotely, or in circumstances when filing and retrieving stacks of paper isn’t an efficient use of time or money. Why make staff members sort through stacks or boxes of paper to find a client’s contract when they can do a quick search on the computer? Paper records tend to hold up the process of doing business.
For instance, tech companies that hire remote workers all over the world benefit from having their contractors sign contracts electronically, returning them to the company via email. It’s tedious having to mail stacks of paperwork back and forth and make multiple copies. This process also prolongs the contractor’s ability to start working immediately.
Then you’ve got to consider the cost of paper, ink, and postage, none of which are cheap.
Printer ink is more expensive than champagne
When you think of printer ink in terms of cost per ounce, it turns out to be one of the most expensive liquids you’ll ever buy. Even the cheapest ink that costs between $10-$13 is more expensive than a bottle of champagne. In fact, ink costs roughly $9,600 per gallon. You could buy 2,652 gallons of unleaded 87-grade gasoline for the same price as a gallon of ink.
Does ink cost so much because it’s difficult to make or in short supply? The short answer is no. Ink isn’t difficult to produce and it’s not in short supply. Ink manufacturers price their cartridges based on what the average consumer is willing to spend.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve all been duped into believing that an ounce of ink is worth an average of $20 because of how long it lasts. It sounds reasonable until you break the cost down by the ounce.
If you’re wondering how ink is made, here’s a detailed video that shows the process. It takes skill to blend perfect colors by hand, but the commercial ink you buy in the store is mixed by machines that automatically calibrate the ingredients.
E-signatures are regulated
Regulation was passed on July 23, 2014, to make electronic interactions secure and seamless. This regulation is referred to as eIDAS: the electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market.
The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that electronic signatures of all kinds, including seals and stamps, will work across all borders and maintain the same legal status as traditional paperwork. Part of this requires being able to validate those electronic signatures, and that’s where the encryption of digital signatures comes in.
E-signatures can be digitally secured
E-signatures can be digitally encrypted for security – a top priority for every business. This digital encryption is known as a “digital signature.”
Collecting unencrypted signatures for your business is dangerous. There’s always a chance that you won’t be able to prove a document was legitimately signed. However, using software that provides that encryption will protect you.
There are several levels of security required by the eIDAS legislation, depending on the type of signature being collected. Some companies, like eSignLive, provide digital signature solutions for businesses that satisfy all the eIDAS requirements. Their solutions also authenticate users before they have access to the document they’re signing, so you can be sure it’s in the right hands.
E-signatures vs. digital signatures
The terms “electronic signature” and “digital signature” are often used interchangeably, though there is a difference. Understanding the difference requires understanding what is meant by “signature.”
According to the Oxford dictionary, a signature is “a distinctive pattern, product, or characteristic by which someone or something can be identified.” For example, a chef might have a signature dish and an artist might have a signature style of painting facial features.
This general definition of signature is what is meant by the term “digital signature.” Put simply, it’s digital data that can be identified and authenticated.
An electronic signature uses digital signature technology. A digital signature is the distinct digital data that accompanies the electronic signature as a result of the encryption used in the process of signing a document.
If you collect electronic signatures but haven’t implemented digital signatures in your business yet, consider it with an open mind. Contractual agreements are serious business, and encrypting your e-signatures can’t be skipped.