25 November 2022
The E-Signature Revolution And What It Can Offer To Your Business
When it comes to the way we sign documents, COVID-19 changed everything. No longer was it merely inconvenient to have to arrange for all parties to attend the office for a signing, it was impossible. The tried-and-true method of posting a document around the houses was still an option but, quickly and en masse, businesses and individuals alike were looking for alternatives.
E-signatures have been around for some time, but it was only amidst the pandemic that it truly exploded with the volume of transactions involving e-signatures skyrocketing from less than a hundred million in 2015 to over a quarter of a billion in 2020.
COVID might have necessitated it for many but the benefits of adopting an e-signature facility speak for themselves. Shedding reliance on the postal service allows businesses to also shed the unreliability that so often comes with it. No longer are documents lost in transit. Furthermore, in a business environment increasingly concerned with the protection of the earthly environment, the removal of paper from the equation, not to mention the emissions involved in the delivery of physical documents, stands to dramatically reduce a company’s carbon footprint.
E-signing is not merely more environmentally efficient, it is also dramatically more time efficient. Here at Cook Corporate, we are keenly aware of the importance of expediency in getting deals done and the expense of an e-signature facility has more than paid for itself already in the time it has saved us.
Whilst we welcome the shift towards e-signatures, there are factors adoptees ought to be aware of. The first is implementation times. For a small business, moving over to an e-signature platform is extremely easy and only takes 2.3 months on average to fully implement. In stark contrast, the rigidity of larger enterprises and the transition becomes a major upheaval with average implementation times rising to 9 months on average.
It is also important to know your clients. Here, in corporate law, our clients are almost universally technologically literate and have no issues at all interfacing with our e-signature platform. However, depending on your business, that might well not be the case. E-signatures will not save time if your clients do not understand the technology. Even then, it is still very much worth considering. As with any emerging technology, as adoption of it grows and grows, understanding will follow naturally.
Though the use of e-signatures opens up the potential for entirely remote executions of documents, there remain legal requirements that can, in some cases, stifle the potential of the technology. Take, for example, documents that must be signed as deeds and thus must be signed and witnessed with both the signatory and witness physically present for the other’s signatures. The requirements here undeniably chip away at the convenience of e-signing though, it must be noted, these same issues exist with more archaic methods of execution but without the myriad other benefits of e-signatures.
Overall, it is a question of when, not if e-signatures become the preeminent method of signature and wet signatures fade into irrelevance entirely.