Why Do We Still Use “Analog” Signatures? Michael Kwan February 11, 2014 Most of us are moving more and more toward a paperless existence. It’s far more convenient managing e-billing for our utility and credit card bills than it is to wait for the paper bill to arrive in the mail. We can pay those bills online, rather than writing out a check and making the physical visit to the bank. Many people don’t buy printed books anymore, thanks to the huge convenience afforded by e-book readers like the Kobo and Kindle. When you pay for products and services in certain stores, the clerk may ask if they can e-mail you the receipt rather than print one out for you. This all makes a lot of sense, but it also introduces a unique set of challenges. What about when you need to sign some sort of agreement or contract? When I get products on loan to review on MEGATechNews, some companies ask that I sign a contract promising that I’ll return that product. For many of these, I’m stuck with printing out the contract sent via e-mail, just so that I can sign the piece of paper, scan the sheet, and email them back the PDF. That doesn’t make as much sense. And this is why the idea of an “electronic signature” is slowly but surely gaining in popularity. The so-called “e-signature” is gaining more widespread adoption, but there is still a lot of confusion about how all of that works. From a legal standpoint, how can we be sure that we are properly authenticating the user? How can we be sure that we are accurately capturing the intent of the user? And what sort of “signing” is really being used? And let’s not forget that there is a critical difference between e-signatures and digital signatures. The electronic signature is a legal concept that encompasses the whole idea of capturing a person’s intent, agreeing to the terms of a certain contract or other document. A digital signature, on the other hand, really only refers to the encryption technology used and, on its own, is not an “e-signature.” That’s a very critical point, because it means that simply scanning your signature, saving it as an image file, and “pasting” it into a document isn’t really good enough. That’s why there are companies like HelloSign and RightSignature that address this problem directly with their own e-signature solutions, but even that can be limited. As we move beyond “just” a paperless existence to one that is increasingly mobile and dynamic, the very construct of an “e-signature” also has to change. We arguably use our smartphones more than our computers and we store more thing in the cloud than we might on local storage. E-signatures need to adapt to this way of being too and the e-SignLive solution from Silanis is meant to address that. It’s both on-premise and on the cloud. Signatures can be capture on any device, including mobile. It integrates with existing systems and provides embedded audit trails. I don’t use a fax anymore. I don’t send in my tax return through snail mail. I don’t go to the store to buy physical media for my music anymore either. It’s all digital and it’s all on the web. The very idea of capturing a signature — for a contract, sales slip, shipping waybill, or whatever else — needs to be the same way. Share This With The World!