Everything You Should Know About Collecting Signatures Online

Kamran Shafii |

Conducting business over the internet has been a game-changer in many industries, as it allowed for streamlining traditional and often demanding practices, such as document signing.

Collecting signatures online is an easy way to sign business agreements and contracts with people regardless of physical location. But do electronic signatures collected through popular electronic signature software hold up in court?

This guide will cover everything you need to know about how to get an electronic signature on legal documents. 

What Are Online Signatures?

Online signatures are otherwise known as electronic or digital signatures. Most people use all three terms interchangeably. However, there’s technically a difference between electronic and digital signatures: 

  • Electronic signature: An electronic signature refers to any electronic process that indicates acceptance of an agreement. This can be as simple as typing a name into a document, clicking an “I accept” button on a webpage, or using a stylus or finger to ‘write’ a legal signature on a tablet. Electronic signatures primarily indicate that someone agrees with the terms outlined in the document. 
  • Digital signature: A digital signature is a subset of an electronic signature that includes a specific type of encryption called Public Key Interface (PKI). It is a method that seals a document against forgery and proves its authenticity. Rather than being a handwritten sign of agreement, a digital signature is a record of one document’s integrity.

Legal Validity of Online Signatures

Online signatures are just as valid as pen-and-ink signatures, provided you meet certain requirements. The two primary regulations that govern electronic signatures in the United States are the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). Some states have also passed their laws or adopted a version of the UETA. 

For an electronic signature to be legally binding under these laws, you have to meet the following requirements: 

  • Intent to sign: For an electronic signature to be valid, the signer has to intend to sign it deliberately. You can fulfill this requirement by providing an area for the signer to draw their signature physically or by including an “I accept” button they have to click before submitting their signature. 
  • Consent to do business electronically: You have to have someone’s consent to do business electronically before you can collect signatures online. You can include a clause in your document and require signers to click an acceptance button before signing. 
  • Association of the signature with the record: Your system has to associate the signature with the document by keeping a record of its execution. 
  • Record retention: You must keep the electronic records and provide a copy of them to anyone entitled to have them. You also have to have a system in place to store the documents safely at all times.

How Are Security and Authenticity Ensured?

Online signatures are useless unless you can prove that the person signing is who they say they are and the document hasn’t changed after signing. When you’re considering how to collect signatures online, look for an electronic signature platform that uses strict security protocols to verify and safeguard the documents and the signatures. Here are some methods these platforms typically use to ensure the authenticity and security of online documents:

Encryption and Data Protection Measures

Encryption is a fundamental measure for securing all types of electronic data transmission. Blockchain technology is one of the safest methods of encryption. When a document is signed using blockchain technology, a cryptographic hash — a unique string that represents the data within the document — can be created and added to the blockchain. This hash changes if the document changes in any way after signing.

An audit trail adds another layer of security. Audit trails record each step a signer took when electronically signing the document, along with a timestamp. It provides a chronological record of the signer’s action from the time they open the document through signing it, creating a digital log of the signing process. 

Authentication and Identity Verification

Authentication and identity verification prove that the signer is who they say they are. Some methods of identity verification include: 

  • Email, address, or phone number verification
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA), such as requiring the signer to enter a code from a text or email before signing
  • Biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition
  • Knowledge-based authentication, such as answering a security question

How to Integrate With Existing Systems

Every modern business runs on its unique mixture of software technologies and tools. Your electronic signature platform must integrate with your existing tools to become an efficient part of your workflow. You can incorporate an electronic signature solution into your existing systems through application programming interfaces (APIs) or native integrations offered by most e-signature platforms. 

How to Automate Signatures Workflow for Efficiency

Quality electronic signature solutions will help you skip unnecessary meetings and expensive overnight packages by collecting signatures online automatically. As soon as you reach an agreement with a customer or client, you can upload the contract — as a PDF file or choose from many other document types — add the electronic signature fields, and email the form to be signed.

When the recipient opens the document and signs and dates the contract, you’ll get a notification sent to your email address with all associated documents and verification. You can easily integrate this process into your existing workflow templates with minimal additional steps. 

Compliance With Industry Regulations

Although the regulations for ensuring online signatures are legally valid and binding may seem intimidating, a trusted electronic signature platform makes everything simple and easy. With jSign, you can effortlessly follow all major e-signature laws using blockchain encryption and verification technology when you collect electronic signatures. 

The Growing Relevance of Electronic Signature Collection

With the rise of remote work and eCommerce, the number of transactions we conduct electronically is higher than ever before. Fortunately, modern tools like jSign help streamline the document signing part, allowing businesses and professionals alike to send out, receive, and sign documents quickly and effortlessly.

Complete online forms faster and more efficiently with jSign’s automated workflows. You’ll save money on postage, printing, paper, and ink and free up your team to focus on important tasks instead of chasing down signatures on paper contracts.

jSign’s dashboard lets you stay updated and organized on the status of all your electronic signature forms. Automated reminders eliminate the hassle of nagging people to get signatures, and a Certificate of Completion provides all the vital information you need in one place. 

Sign up today for your free trial to get started. 

Kamran Shafii
Manager, SEO Content

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