The future of online document signing in the era of digital transformation

By Szilveszter Szebeni, Chief Data and Compliance Officer at Tresorit [ Join Cybersecurity Insiders ]
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In an increasingly tech-savvy world, businesses are redefining the very core of transactions – the signature. The paradigm shift towards electronic signatures, however, is not merely a convenience. Electronic signatures have become a commodity when it comes to streamlining processes and reducing paperwork. With the rise of remote work and global digital transactions, the need for secure and efficient document processing has elevated electronic signatures into a near business-critical fundamental.

While there are many options for business leaders to incorporate digital signing into their business and agreement processes today, protecting their data while meeting legal and compliance requirements must be a priority. Many are unaware that only a solution offering zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption will guarantee the highest level of security for their data.

What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature, or eSignature, refers to a signature created to sign an agreement or other document electronically and approve or agree to certain terms. Integrated e-signatures serve as electronic fingerprints, utilising cryptographic algorithms to verify document authenticity and user identity. This means that eSignatures can’t be removed and copied to other documents in an act of forgery.

An eSignature is an umbrella term, referring also to such simple forms like writing your name under an email or ticking a checkbox on a website. Some examples of use cases for electronic signatures include sales contracts, mortgage applications, quality control reports, non-disclosure agreements, job offer letters, purchase orders, maintenance logs, insurance claims, patient intake forms, and change requests.

Some documents that cannot be signed electronically due to special legal and formal requirements might include legal documents such as deeds, wills, adoption papers, product recall notices, divorce filings, court orders, leases as well as eviction notices.

The evolution of eSignature solutions

The past decade has seen a surge in adoption of eSignatures, with the COVID-19 pandemic propelling the rapid adoption of eSigning that turned the global digital signature market into one of the fastest-growing in the world.

According to Deloitte, In 2020, the eSignature market size was estimated at somewhere between $2.3 and $2.8 billion, and is projected to reach over $14 billion by 2026. In fact, on a global scale, Deloitte predicts Europe along with Asia Pacific to become a fastest-growing region by 2026.

The business world clearly has no problem trusting eSignatures as secure and legally binding as traditional signatures. Yet organisations that are investing in eSigning platforms are now also turning to them for beyond classic reasons of speed and security. With integrated eSignatures they can enhance efficiency and streamline their small or medium-sized business’ document signing process by using an encrypted yet user-friendly solution.

Most eSignature services on the market see every contract that is signed by their customers. By using an end-to-end encrypted service, customers can sign agreements without sharing the contents with the service provider.

Benefits of a data room

Businesses frequently face the challenge of signing multiple documents each month, be it HR contracts, sales agreements, or NDAs. Traditional standalone eSignature solutions can entail security risks and often result in time-consuming processes and security bottlenecks.

In contrast, integrated eSignature solutions offer inherent efficiency. By adopting an integrated platform within a secure data room, businesses can dramatically reduce the time spent on sending, signing, and storing their essential documents. Electronic documents can be signed anytime, anywhere, on any electronic device, enhancing convenience for both senders and signees.

With an end-to-end-encrypted data room set-up, companies have a centralised file management system in place where documents are securely stored, shared and signed, without compromising security. Documents can seamlessly move between signing and storage within the same platform, decreasing disruptions to systems, minimising disjointed process scenarios without the need to build custom integration between systems.

Providing a secure portal for sharing documents and requesting files, guarantees the confidentiality of your clients’ information, ensuring compliance with regulations such as GDPR or industry-specific standards like FINRA throughout your collaboration.

Integration extends beyond eSignatures, encompassing cloud storage and file sharing, and offering a comprehensive solution, as a result. Where standalone solutions might lead to document management challenges, with files scattered across platforms and with different security measures applied, a unified end-to-end encrypted platform ensures transparency and accessibility across departments. This allows both internal and external stakeholders to collaborate easily and reduces the risk of overlooked or misplaced documents.

Features to consider when choosing an eSignature solution

To ensure that an eSignature solution will cover the greatest breadth of needs within the organisation, it’s best to choose features that enable you to:

  • Have ease and flexibility of creating eSignature requests from a browser, on Windows and Mac platforms.
  • Electronically sign any document, whether it’s an asset purchase agreement, employment contract or non-disclosure agreement, faster without sacrificing security.
  • Have the opportunity to design your signing workflows according to low-risk and high-liability contract cycles and ensure highest level of legal certainty whenever needed.
  • Take care of the signing process in three easy steps: create an eSign request, share the request link with your collaborators and get notified once they’re done.
  • Benefit from zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption, the gold standard for privacy, ensuring that no third parties can see your contracts.
  • Simplify the entire document management lifecycle with eSignatures integrated into a data room where files could not only be signed but stored and shared as well.
  • Create fine-grained eSignature policies and access controls to documents and share them securely with internal or external signatories through encrypted email or with encrypted links.
  • Add additional security features, such as watermarks, file expiration dates, and user verification, empowering your organisation with complete control over its data.
  • Intuitively manage your eSignature workflows by easily adding fillable fields and tracking the progress.
  • Set up a secure central contract repository for collaboration across departments and keep track of completed, pending, and rejected requests in one place. Having electronic signatures embedded into a zero-knowledge end-to-end encrypted document management platform can guarantee the highest level of security for sensitive business data.

Elevating document management to new levels

The benefits of electronic document signing to boost an organisation’s cybersecurity and productivity are clear – it speeds up the signature process considerably and makes document storage simpler and more cost-effective. eSignature solutions also help increase the security level of documents while improving efficiency and accuracy.

But beyond these advantages, integrated eSignature solutions within a secure data room offer a smarter way of document signing as part of a wider document management strategy: this allows organisations to boost productivity and keep their information safe and private at all times.

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