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Why did the European Commission decide to replace the directive previously in place?

The vast majority of business and consumer transactions in the EU don’t require a specific type of electronic signature. Nevertheless, there are some transactions which—as a matter of national law—may require an advanced or qualified electronic signature or the parties may choose these signatures because they afford more security and a higher level of authentication.

The business community favors—and UK jurisprudence supports—the use of simple electronic signatures for transactions under UK law. But there will always be exceptional cases where the parties will have to use a paper process. An English land transfer, for instance, may only be registered with HM Land Registry if it is signed by hand.

There are also some industry sectors—notably banking and healthcare—where there has been a marked “cultural” preference for digital signature technology. eIDAS’ inclusion of this technology in its recommended standards for Advanced and Qualified Electronic Signature may reinforce this trend.

How will eIDAS be beneficial from a business perspective?

The eIDAS Regulation will establish a more predictable regulatory framework for electronic transactions. This should, in theory, galvanize cross-border e-commerce and the digital economy, and further the DSM.

There’s likely to be rising demand from businesses for trust services and for secure electronic signature platforms like DocuSign. One of the innovations of the Regulation is that it opens the door for trust service providers to use cloud technology so customers can generate and validate electronic signatures on the move using their smartphone or tablet. This is expected to play a big role in driving the digital transformation of business in the UK and across the EU.

How has DocuSign prepared for the introduction of eIDAS?

In November 2015, DocuSign acquired the electronic signature business of OpenTrust (now known as IDnomic). This gave us the ability to provide all forms of electronic signature defined under eIDAS, including advanced and qualified, to customers transacting business in the EU.

DocuSign’s Standards-Based Signatures’ technology is also underpinned by eIDAS-recommended technical standards for electronic signature, including digital technology standards (X.509 PKI, PAdES, XAdES, and CAdES and others from ETSI, CEN and ANSI).