Four things South African businesses must know about digital signatures

Digital signing

As businesses continue to move towards digital transformation and automation, electronic signatures are becoming a business necessity and a legitimate replacement for traditional wet signatures. In light of the digital transformation, the onus lies with businesses to ensure they are well informed about digital signatures.

Although sometimes used interchangeably with electronic signature, a digital signature is a technique to protect documents and identify the signer of the document. The digital signature is used to indicate the signer’s acceptance of the electronic agreement or electronic record. Typically, digital signatures use some form of authentication to verify the identity of the signer, such as a password or a One Time Pin sent to a mobile phone.

“If your organisation works with a large number of physical documents on a daily basis, you should consider implementing digital signatures. Not only will digital signatures pave the way to a paperless future but they will also make your signing workflows more efficient and increase productivity,” says Business Analyst at LAWtrust, Riaan de Villiers.

A recent study by PandaDoc, an American software company, shows that companies that use e-signatures see up to a 28% increase in their document close rate. Cutting out the burdensome process of hand-signing documents, especially when multiple signatures are required, significantly reduces friction in the approval process. 

Here are four important things South African businesses must know about electronic/digital signatures:

  • Higher levels of safety and security: Digital signatures protects an organisation’s employees and documents. Strong cryptographic techniques are used to protect the document against tampering and the authentication process protects employees against identity theft and impersonation.
  • Paperless Environment: It is not easy to manage many business papers and documents on a regular basis. It demands a lot of time and energy to manage the paperwork which can rather be spent on other business activities. Storing paperwork also requires a lot of space. Business expansion requires more paperwork and more space will be required to store those business papers. Digital signatures allow businesses to reduce their reliance on paper and be kinder to the environment.
  • Workflow efficiency: With fewer delays, digital signatures ensure better efficiency in document signing workflows. Managing and tracking documents is easier and faster. Processes that normally take months from the time a document is requested until it is received can be done in considerably less time. They also make it easier to organize information and documents. Searching a digital document repository is easier and faster than searching through paper documents stored in file cabinets or boxes. A good digital signing solution will allow organisations to track their signing workflows and send notifications to users to let them know that there are documents that require their attention.  
  • Higher Client Satisfaction: It is important for every business to keep the clients happy and satisfied. Digital signatures help you to achieve a higher level of client satisfaction. It is one of the most common reasons why digital signatures are being adopted by businesses at a higher rate. Digital signatures will allow you to share documents online with your clients in minutes (independent of their location and distance where they are). This way, you will give your clients the ability to sign anytime, anywhere, and from any device. With the use of digital signatures, the signing process becomes so much simpler, smoother, and streamlined.

“Digital signing solutions can help your organization save time, money and space providing better security while improving productivity and cutting down on paperwork,” concludes de Villiers.