Our society has quickly become increasingly reliant on digital processes, including digital and electronic signatures. Multiple mechanisms of conducting business have become automated and many industry sectors are tapping into a consumer base that is quickly becoming more tech-savvy. Because there is a digital process for nearly everything, there has become a need for these types of signatures. Many people may use the terms digital signatures and electronic signatures interchangeably, but there are key differences between the two. In this article, we will discuss the differences between electronic and digital signatures and how they can be used in our business transactions.

What Are Digital Signatures?

 A digital signature refers to the decryption/encryption technology on which the solution for electronic signature is built. Alone, this is not a type of electronic signature. However, it secures the data associated with a signed document and helps to verify the authenticity of the signed record. When this technology is used alone, it does not capture a person’s intent to be legally bound or sign a document.

What Are Electronic Signatures? 

An electronic signature is a legal concept. The US Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act defines an electronic signature as something with an electronic symbol, sound, or process associated with and attached to a record or contract adapted by the person with the sole intent to sign the record. Based on that definition, the following components are broken down into an electronic signature: data authentication, user authentication, capture of intent, and a method of signing.

What Are the Differences? 

A digital signature is usually referred to as a standard or advanced signature. It falls into a sub-group of electronic signatures that provides the highest level of universal acceptance and highest levels of security. Digital signatures use PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) technology. They guarantee data integrity, user intent, and non-repudiation of signed documents. Also, a digital signature cannot be altered, tampered with, or copied. Anyone who uses the standard PKI technology can validate electronic signatures, and this can be done without the need for proprietary verification software.

Conversely, there currently is no standard for electronic signatures. A signature itself is proprietary format that could be a digitized image of a symbol, handwritten signature, or voice print that is used to identify authors of an electronic message. This leaves electronic signatures open to forgery and vulnerable to tampering or copying. Electronic signatures do not require proprietary software and are not legally binding.

Recommendations for Use

As we have mentioned, the demand for digital, formal authorizations is increasing. There are often more signature-dependent processes in a department or organization than many realize at first. When digital signatures are implemented, organizations are able to shorten process times while improving efficiency and cutting costs. Because digital signatures and e-signatures are different, they really are designed to work together to create a secure way to sign a document.

Let’s list just a few processes in which digital and electronic signatures are used together. They can be used for public reports and corporate communications, board actions, investor relations, employee actions, SEC documents, employee time sheets, periodic forms, insurance claims, performance reviews, agreements, contracts, work orders, loan agreements, lease agreements, tax filings, purchase requests, submissions, applications, purchase orders, standard operating procedures, work instructions, plans, drawings, HIPAA consent and patient forms, calibration reports, and much more.

eFileCabinet Offers eSignatures

eFileCabinet has teamed up with RightSignature to provide the fastest, easiest way to sign documents online. When paired with our software, eFileCabinet and SecureDrawer programs, you will get signatures at a lower cost and a shorter amount of time. You’ll also receive signed documents straight into your folder structure so they are easier to keep track of. These are legally-binding and secure signatures without any paper.

Did you know that of 40% of non-digital signature users have to interrupt their day to get physical signature sign-offs? For 25% of those who don’t use digital signatures, this can result in approximately one week of delay on average. Additionally, 63% of non-digital signature users say that more than 50% of printing is simply for signatures.

eSignature allows a completely paperless environment with integration of all signed documents into EFC Online, EFC Desktop and SecureDrawer. This allows you to easily send signature documents online, enable customers to sign on any devices, automatically file these collected signatures in their eFileCabinet folder system and provide legally binding electronic signatures with bank-level security.

While the two terms can be similar, there are clear differences between electronic and digital signatures. It can be confusing, but eFileCabinet takes the guesswork out of transactions by providing a seamless eSignature service. It will keep your signatures safe and paperwork filed neatly. When you need a signature solution for your business, and chances are that you will, eFileCabinet offers a solution that is a no-brainer.