As technology takes an increasing place in today’s society, some aspects of life are still very old school right now. For example, it is said that only 2% of managers rely on electronic signature when they want an employee to sign a job contract. The same goes with sales contracts and customers, which inevitably means physical travel in order to seal the deal. Even though electronic signature has existed for a long time, it has not become popular enough. This short article’s goal is to initiate you to this subject.
One goal: limiting issues with paper documents
Even though paper seemed revolutionary a few millennia ago, it became outdated for many reasons. First of all, without using any form of document scan, it becomes extremely complicated for a team of legal specialists to analyze a document. Making it electronic helped everybody to significantly reduce lost time, but it wasn’t enough. As said before, most people still require the final signatory to come to their office in order to officially approve the terms of the document. This is a severe loss of time.
Another problem results of the surplus of paper that big companies accumulate after some time. Keeping paper archives makes it very hard to keep track of all documents produced during 30 years… some huge problems will eventually surface if archiving was not done perfectly. Numeric archives are a lot easier to coordinate. However, right now, you have to write a document, scan it, send it to everybody, print it again, get the signature and scan it again. It might create many jobs for secretaries, but it is completely unproductive.
Electronic signature is accepted in many places
In the United States, there are currently 47 states that recognize digital’s signature value as much as a regular ink signature. In France and Quebec, it is also widely accepted. Digital signature’s mechanisms need to be certified to be considered as valid, though: any company cannot start a product claiming to allow it if it was not properly validated before.
Digital signature’s companies
You’ll find many companies specialized in developing applications to sign virtual documents. Signsquid, for example, is a Quebec-based firm that aims at reducing the enormous paper trail. To allow proper verification of the person that will sign the contract, it sends an authentication link through e-mail as well as an SMS with a unique code. If managed properly, this technique permits that no one else except the targeted person will be able to sign the document. In order to reassure potential skeptics of its technology, it offers to pay any legal fees related to a contestation of one’s digital signature.
Is the price worth it?
Of course, working with these companies will cost you a bit of money. If we still use Signsquid as an example, it would cost between 5$ (for 3 contracts) and 100$ (for 120 contracts) on a monthly basis. Other software will follow a similar price structure. Of course, paper signature does not cost you anything upfront, but lost time and potential mistakes due to lost contracts can be huge.
Charles Bernard writes for a Montreal lawyer cabinet named FSD Law Group. He closely follows tech news and new startups.