Traditional handwritten signatures have long created additional burdens for both large corporations and small businesses. Paper documents can be lost or take a long time to route through different departments.
The good news is that you can easily streamline your business’s signature processes with an affordable, easy electronic signature solution like jSign. Wet signatures — done with pen and ink — are a thing of the past.
Learn everything you need to know about how electronic signatures work, their benefits, and three ways to incorporate this technology into your workflows.
How Do Electronic Signatures Work?
Electronic signatures are just as legitimate and legally binding as handwritten signatures. They’re facilitated by a platform of some kind, including document management or electronic signature software. These systems use an electronic form for processing and signing different document formats, and users just have to sign in the signature block.
The system allows you to set up who will be signing, provide their contact information, indicate the order of signatures, and route the document automatically. The user’s identity is verified using PINs, passwords, IDs, or email. Some platforms even include a digital certificate for further verification.
Whatever kind of document you’re dealing with, the signing process is much faster when you can send the document electronically. Here are a few additional benefits of electronic signatures:
- No more waiting for paper forms to be routed by hand to different parties.
- Get a time-sensitive document signed in moments.
- Follow up with a signatory if they don’t sign promptly.
- Draw, upload, or generate a signature.
- Send reminders for signature deadlines.
- Include private messages with the document.
- View tracking data in a dashboard.
Incorporating electronic signatures into your processes with help from jSign helps you keep tabs on the status of electronic documents and allows teams to collaborate quickly and efficiently.
Cases Where Creating Electronic Signatures Makes Sense
Electronic signatures can be used for almost any type of document you need to sign or send to others. Here are three common use cases:
1. For Taxes
Many taxpayers may think they can’t use electronic signatures for taxes, but the IRS accepts them for various tax forms and your tax return. You can use electronic tools to sign documents for taxes, payroll, audits, and more.
Accountants will often rely on this technology to route documents to their clients.
2. For Legal Documents
Most legal documents can be signed electronically. These may include the following:
- Business and sales contracts
- Offer letters
- Nondisclosure agreements
- Real estate contracts
- Bank account documents
- Medical agreements
- Insurance claims
Electronic signatures need to have certain certifications to ensure they will hold up in court. For example, platforms should include features like audit trails, authentication, and strong security measures.
Keep in mind that certain documents require a wet signature. Depending on your local laws, you may need to avoid electronic signatures for legal documents like wills, some types of trusts, and court documents.
3. For Business Processes
You can significantly speed up and improve everyday business processes in many industries with electronic signatures. They can be used for these key functions within your workflows:
- Authenticate documents by ensuring the right person signs them.
- Verify someone’s identity.
- Increase security with multi-factor authentication.
- Generate timestamps for better record-keeping and tracking.
- Incorporate an audit trail.
- Eliminate the need for paper.
- Speed up previously time-consuming procedures.
- Protect against document tampering.
- Use the cloud to sign, send, and store documents.
Businesses in the U.S. are estimated to waste $8 billion annually on paper. Using electronic methods to get documents routed and signed can significantly improve your digital transformation approach.
What Is the Legality of Electronic Signatures?
Electronic signatures with jSign are the future. But let’s go into more detail about their legality.
In 2000, the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-Sign) Act stated that electronic signatures are valid and legal in the U.S. They have the same weight as handwritten signatures and are legally recognized to approve and validate a variety of contracts and agreements.
However, the E-Sign Act suggests that the following elements be present to ensure legality:
- Intent to sign: The parties must not decline a request to sign. They must accept in some way, and the agreement should include an opt-out clause if someone decides they want to sign by hand.
- Attribution: There needs to be a unique attribution to whoever is signing. This means the signatory can be digitally traced by an ID, time stamp, email address, or another method.
- Retaining records: The electronically signed agreement must be reproducible, printable, and savable.
- Association with the record: There needs to be some kind of indicator on the document to associate it with the record. For example, the system used needs to provide a record of the process used to get the signature. A symbol or signature must be logically associated with the document.
- Consent to do business electronically: Whoever signs the document must consent to do business electronically.
Electronic signatures are legally binding. Just make sure there are no local or special laws about the types of documents you’re sending that impact signature processes.
Streamline Document Signing
Incorporating electronic signatures into your processes helps you improve your entire business operation. Teams can better collaborate, track documents, and speed up workflows, which leads to greater productivity. Don’t rely on lots of paperwork that takes a long time to route for signatures to get completed.
With jSign, your documents can be signed electronically in minutes. With our electronic signature solution, you can send documents to an unlimited number of signers, upload documents from platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive, and choose to draw, upload, or select your signature. Signers also aren’t required to create an account to sign — they can simply sign a document as a guest.
Find the jSign plan that’s right for your business today to get started with more efficient document processes.