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eSignatures As A Piece Of The Digital Transformation Puzzle

The signing of documents is part of everyday business for companies: employment, customer and delivery contracts have to be countersigned and archived, which also means a considerable amount of work for organizations if the signing is still done in the traditional, physical way. Solutions for e-signatures, which take over the verification of the signing parties and enable legally secure digital signatures, are intended to remedy the situation.

Many companies are committed to digitizing their processes and solutions. Some of the progress made by these organizations is remarkable. Above all, the previous corona pandemic, including the obligation to work from home, catalyzed digitization. However, many companies across all industries still rely on physical signatures for their contracts. The reasons are complex and range from legal concerns to a general disruption of digital solutions. 

There is a lot of catching up to do, especially when it comes to electronic signatures (e-signatures). Many organizations still rely on physical signature processes for their contracts. The exchange then occurs by post and may take several days or weeks. Especially in times of increasing digitization, this seems to need to be updated.

What Is An eSignature? 

An electronic signature (eSignature) is data associated with electronic information. These are used to identify signers and signature creators and check the information’s authenticity. These are often electronic documents. From a technical point of view, the eSignature fulfills the same purpose as a physical, manual signature on paper documents.

The eSignature is legally accepted in most countries and is equivalent to physical signatures. An important detail: eSignatures are only assigned to natural persons, authorities and companies that identify themselves with electronic seals.

Benefits Of eSignatures

With eSignatures, the time factor and cost efficiency are better than with their physical counterparts: By using eSignatures, companies save on expenses for printing, shipping and, if necessary, the acquisition and maintenance costs for devices for digitizing physical documents. In addition, there is the sustainability aspect: With digital contracts and e-signatures, the paper requirement drops to zero compared to physical documents.

Instead of sending contracts back and forth by post between two signing parties, a few clicks are all it takes for the document to be legally signed. In particular, sectors with many contracts signed and signed within a short period, such as the real estate sector, can thus greatly reduce the time until the contract is countersigned. 

For example, they receive a legally signed rental agreement back within a few minutes and do not have to wait several days or weeks. In addition, companies avoid media breaks in customer communication: Customers do not have to print out, sign and scan a contract before signing but can digitally sign it quickly. This is certainly conducive to the willingness to conclude a contract.

eSignature Standards And Their Use Cases

Three standards have been established: the standard eSignature (SES), the extended eSignature (AES) and the qualified eSignature (QES). In addition, the relatively young professional eSignature (PES) is being used more and more frequently. These standards differ depending on the intended use and the required legal certainty of the signature provided: Of all eSignature standards, the SES has the greatest ease of use, the lowest requirements and the lowest costs. 

The verification occurs via a (business) email address and is mainly used for B2B contracts or internal documents without a legal form requirement. At the same time, it has the lowest probative value and, therefore, cannot be used for all documents. The AES represents the next secure standard, mainly used for more important documents without a legal form requirement. The verification of the signatory takes place here via the email address and also a telephone number. 

The QES is standard with the highest legal certainty and, simultaneously, the highest requirements: For verification, it requires the email address and a forgery-proof online ID check with face scan comparison. It is used for all documents with legal form requirements. The PES positions itself between AES and QES: It combines high user convenience with moderate costs and, at the same time, high evidential value. In addition to an email address, users identify themselves with Intrum’s forgery-proof, automated identification AutoIdent with a face scan. This way, users can identify themselves digitally within 40 seconds, regardless of location and device, without waiting for a VideoIdent agent.

What Do Companies Have To Consider With Their eSignature Solution?

In general, companies should pay attention to the following features when selecting their eSigning solution:

  1. Clear user interface
  2. Easy integration into existing systems to avoid operational downtime
  3. Support of the QES standard
  4. Secure identification of users
  5. Highest data protection standards


Businesses should explore the possibilities that eSignatures offer. They reduce the costs that arise with every signature process and also reduce the time to a successful signature. However, eSignature providers must also pay attention to data protection and their requirements, as with all digital solutions.

Providers with high data protection standards can make the signature processes in organizations more efficient without compromising data security and compliance.

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