Looking for ways to save time, money, and manpower is nothing new, but what is new is looking for ways to keep yourself, your employees, and your clients safe during a global pandemic. Turning what used to be a face-to-face encounter into a virtual meeting and obtaining approvals digitally instead of in ink is all part of the new normal.
If e-commerce was catching fire prior to COVID, it is now absolutely ablaze.
One of the benefits of e-commerce is the use of electronic signatures and digital signatures. Using digital signatures helps you save time, money, manpower, and keeps everyone safe. It’s the most efficient way to conduct business, sign documents, finalize agreements, and close deals—talk about functionality. Digital signatures are:
- Completely contactless; both parties sign from their own computers or mobile devices wherever they are currently located. This can either be through a touchscreen with a stylus, your cursor, or even an image of your signature that you upload.
- Safe. Digital signatures use encryption features that ensure the safety and integrity of the document being signed and the signatures being obtained.
- Time saving and efficient. What could take days via mail or hours in person can now be handled in minutes via email and an electronic document. Employees and contract holders can easily sign PDF documents and become part of the workflow that much faster.
If you’re ready to begin using electronic and digital signatures, we can help you get a head start. We’ll discuss what digital signatures actually are, how they differ from electronic signatures, what you’ll need to create them, and how Revv can help you with document approval and e-signature collection.
What is a Digital Signature?
If you do a search for “digital signature,” you’re going to return some pretty technical sounding results that can be confusing unless you’re incredibly tech-savvy. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume you’re not a computer programmer.
A digital signature, like an electronic signature, is a method of obtaining a signature on a document without pen and paper. It differs in how it determines that the signer is who they say they are.
In other words, a digital signature differs from an electronic signature in terms of how it goes about authentication.
Here’s a brief description of how both electronic signatures and digital signatures work to authenticate and secure signatures.
Electronic signature is a broad term used to describe different methods of capturing a virtual signature for document signing.
Most electronic signatures will identify a person or company using a series of identifiers that are tied to the documents being executed. These identifiers are usually in the form of IP hashing.
IP hashing is a way of identifying and coding a particular IP address for privacy. A coding system is used to turn a user’s IP address into a series of markings or “hashes” that identify the user and keep the address private.
This type of identification is easy, effective, safe, and can be integrated into documents easily, without additional work or cost.
Clickwrap Electronic Signature.
Clickwrap electronic signatures are basically the equivalent of an “accept/reject” agreement. The user marks their agreement by checking a box or clicking a button, and for this to be considered valid, it must be visible and understandable to readers, as well as requiring active consent from users.
You may be familiar with this type of signature from any time that you’ve visited a website and were asked to acknowledge that the website you’re on is using cookies.
A signature like this is enforceable, and as such, it remains best practice to read through the full contract before you agree to anything.
Digital signatures are a type of electronic signature that require a bit more in terms of signature software and pricing for both signing parties.
Digital signatures use what is called personal key infrastructure, or “PKI,” to identify parties who are signing documents.
In this method of virtual signature collection, each party will have a public and private identifier called a “key.” These “keys” must be purchased in the form of a digital certificate of security from a specific provider.
When a user signs a document with their private key, it is encrypted and sent to the other party along with their public key. When the other party receives the public key, it must be able to decrypt the private key. This lets the other party know the online signature is valid.
Digital signatures aren’t necessary for enhancing the safety or validity of your electronically signed documents. Some companies (especially governmental agencies) will use digital signatures in lieu of other forms of electronic signatures as a matter of preference, especially on legal documents.
Additionally, as digital signatures are tied to the issuer of the public-private keys, their usage is limited. This is especially true when it comes to cross-border transactions where electronic signatures have broader applicability.
Do I need a special program to create a Digital Signature?
To create a digital signature, you will need specialized software that is able to create the specific encryption requirements needed for PKI. Additionally, you will need a certificate of security or a certificate authority. These certificates must be purchased from third-party distributors.
Creating a digital signature that is legally binding and valid requires conformity to the E-Sign Act. The main requirements for obtaining a virtual signature per the act are as follows:
- Consent. The signatory must consent to a digital signature. They must be made aware they will not be signing in pen as a handwritten signature, and they must know precisely what their consent includes (if it includes other documents or extends to other agreements, they must be made aware).
Additionally, the consent must include instructions on how the signor can withdraw their consent and an expiration date of consent withdrawal if there is one.
- Software and hardware requirements. Prior to obtaining a signor’s consent, the company requesting the digital signature must disclose to the signer the specific hardware and software requirements that will be needed to properly execute the signature.
It is imperative that the signatory be made aware that a digital signature is being requested, and that a certificate of security will be required to sign the document.
- Record retention. The person or company requesting the digital signature must comply with state and federal laws governing record retention and agree to retain the digitally signed records in accordance with the law.
Because digital signatures are less cost-effective and require more legwork than other methods of electronic signatures, it is often preferable for a company or individual to use a different electronic signature method.
How to create an Electronic Signature with Revv
Creating valid, effective, and easy to understand electronic signatures is easy when you use Revv. The first step in creating documents that are ready to be electronically approved or signed is to determine what is actually needed.
Some documents do not actually need an electronic signature. Because electronic signatures cost a little extra, it’s important to determine if the document you’re sending actually needs to be signed, approved, or simply accepted.
Using Revv’s acceptance feature can save you time and money. Here are the differences between documents that need acceptance, approval, or signature.
Accepted. If a document simply needs to be accepted before additional actions can be taken, using Revv’s send for acceptance feature is the perfect solution. This feature can be used for documents that don’t need an electronic signature, but requires assent and agreement from the recipient before further action can be taken. This feature is also essentially the equivalent of a clickwrap signature.
Examples of documents that may not need signatures include quotes, proposals, reimbursement forms, official notices, leave approvals, and more. On the other hand, all contracts and agreements are going to require a signature.
If an electronic signature is definitely required, Revv can help you with that, too. Creating an electronic signature with Revv is easy and can be done quickly, saving you time and requiring less from your recipient in terms of software and cost. If you’re confused at all, you can also request a demo or a tutorial to make sure that you have it all squared away. Here’s how it works.
- Log into your Revv account.
- Create your document (if you’ve already completed your document creation, you can skip ahead.) At this time, you’ll need to add the signature blocks and names and information of any signers before you can get internal approvals. You can also utilize our templates to create the perfect document.
- Once your document has been created, finalized, and approved by all necessary internal parties, you’re ready to add your signature line.
- Click on the eSign tab and send it to the recipient for their signature.
Yes, it really is that simple. You also won’t have to wonder about when your recipient will receive the document, review it, and/or sign it. Revv triggers email alerts so no matter where your document is or who’s reviewing and signing it, you’ll always be in the know. For an added layer of protection, users can also enable SMS-OTP authentication of the recipient.
Once the electronic signature has been obtained, you’ll be notified via email that the deal is done. Nothing could be simpler than conducting business with the Revv platform.
Electronic signatures are legally binding and valid in the United States and in over sixty other countries worldwide. Switching to electronic signatures can help you save time, money, and manpower.
Digital signatures are a type of electronic signatures that require the use of PKI and certificates of security. These types of electronic signatures aren’t necessarily any safer than other methods of electronic signature verification, and cost parties additional money and resources to capture.
A better solution for obtaining needed signatures is to use an all-in-one document creation and management tool, like Revv. Using Revv to create documents and obtain electronic signatures is the perfect way to safely conduct business during the pandemic and beyond.