By Reggie Davis, General Counsel
Having a legally-valid electronic signature solution is a key component of any company’s overall digital transformation. But beware, eSignature solutions are not all created equal.
Solutions can range from low-end – what I like to refer to as “ScribbleSign” – which simply paste an image of a signature into a document, to highly developed and secure electronic signature platforms like DocuSign’s, that offer powerful privacy, security, encryption and authentication capabilities to protect the document’s information and transaction data.
An essential part of understanding your digital transformation is being aware of the distinction between what might at first blush appears to satisfy minimal requirements, and what conforms to best practices requirements and regulations for legally-valid eSignatures around the world.
For example, just recently in New South Wales, Australia, the Supreme Court found that even though an electronic signature from a Scribble Sign vendor in question was genuine, it had not been affixed with legal authority – making the contract unenforceable, because it did not provide evidence of authority that could be demonstrated through a robust and verifiable audit trail.
Imagine if all your electronic contracts and agreements were invalid simply because you used the wrong eSignature solution.
DocuSign has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into our Digital Transaction Management (DTM) platform and eSignature solution to deliver secure electronic signatures that exceed the requirements of U.S. and international laws governing electronic signatures. With DocuSign, you can transact business electronically with confidence knowing your documents and agreements that utilize the DocuSign Global Trust Network are legally-valid.
With DocuSign, information about the identity of the person you have asked to complete a transaction is bound to the document in a cryptographic function so any tampering, or attempts at tampering, are flagged. Moreover, the signatures cannot be copied and used elsewhere as there is evidentiary proof that is electronically tied and sealed to the signature as part of that document, and which does not transfer if the image is copy/pasted into another document. Additionally, with DocuSign every proof point is captured inside a tamper-proof audit trail – including the signature, date/time stamp, IP address, email address – and available in a court admissible certificate of completion.
For an added layer of security, DocuSign also offers advanced identity authentication – such as a one-time password, phone authentication, and witnessed signing – that can be selected by the sender based on the needs and requirements of their business. For lower value transactions, one can select email authentication; for higher value transactions, one can select multi-factor authentication. It’s important that your chosen vendor’s platform can scale with your business needs.
DocuSign goes further to meet legal requirements and customs around the world – by providing, for example, a choice of using a digital signature, which is a type of electronic signature that includes specific methods of ensuring security and attribution, that can sometimes be required to do business in certain industries or geographies. DocuSign offers this choice and control in a way that is easy to use so you can transact business digitally with trust and confidence.
Not only does DocuSign help establish best practices, we are establishing them in conjunction with industry leaders from Visa, SAP, Microsoft, Intel, and a host of other organizations through the xDTM Standard Association. The xDTM Standard provides in-depth guidelines and best practices that a provider must address to create a trusted online environment for digital transactions. (Organizations can reference the executive brief here for a comprehensive list of quality elements and solution requirements, which includes appropriate credentialing and a verifiable chain of custody.)
The demand for eSignature technology worldwide is large and growing. If your aim is best practice for your business in the digital age, you will want a solution that does not put your business at risk when you use its services. Whether that’s with a legally-enforceable signature as outlined here or choosing a reliable solution that’s available when you need it, be sure to do your due diligence to select the right esignature solution.