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What is digital signature software?
Digital signature software (aka electronic signature and/or e-signature software) provides secure signature capturing through cryptography. These systems let users electronically attach an image of a signature to a document. Digital signature solutions verify signer identity and speed up the general document-signing process.
The benefits of digital signature software
- Efficient signature workflow: Manual document signature workflow management can be time consuming. Manual methods require tracking multiple people who need to sign a document, and often require users to manually route the document from one signee to another. Digital signature solutions let users design a workflow using different routing logics, such as parallel (signed by multiple signees in no particular order), series (signed by multiple signees in a specified order), and mixed (combination of series and parallel methods). Users can also track the real-time status of needed signatures in a dashboard.
- Facilitate compliance with document standards/requirements: Depending on type, businesses must ensure that their documents meet certain standards/requirements and include - among other things - watermarks, certificates of completion, and signature disclosure. Non-compliance can result in the repudiation of contracts. Digital signature program facilitates compliance by enforcing these standards at the point-of-use. As an example, digital signature solutions automatically generate certificates of completion as soon as each transaction is completed. Some solutions also offer audit trails, which log document activities from start to finish (including forwarding, printing, signing, and declining a signatory).
- Faster deal closure: Managing paper-based signature workflows require significant time spent physically moving the document from one signee to another, and the amount of follow-up effort can be overwhelming. The process is further complicated if documents must be routed across cities and countries. Digital signature software simplifies this process by letting users electronically sign documents using various verification methods, allowing faster transactions and deal closure.
Typical features of digital signature software
- Authentication: Determine and verify the identity of signees and their signature via email, SMS, a telephone call, social media profiles, and geolocation capturing.
- Electronic signature: Sign documents within the software system, and ensure that only the intended/requested recipient signs the document.
- Audit trail: Track document changes, view change timestamps, and verify any document ownership changes.
- Mobile signature: Capture a signature via a mobile app or web-based interface.
- Multi-party signing: Share documents with multiple users and collect multiple signatures in a serial, parallel, or combination order.
Considerations when purchasing digital signature software
- Authentication methods: What makes digital signature software secure are its authentication methods. Such solutions offer a number of authentication methods, including email, access code, phone, and social media profiles. Some products also offer geolocation verification, which captures the GPS coordinates at the point-of-signature and validates signees based on location. Buyers of digital signature software should determine their authentication policies and needs, and shortlist products accordingly.
- Mobile app: As businesses continue to build mobile workforces, mobile applications are becoming a necessity. Such apps allow users to perform various tasks on the go, making business as a whole faster and efficient. Mobile digital signature solutions allow users to take pictures of physical documents and contracts, convert them into PDFs, and assign them to signees instantly. Signees can view documents awaiting their signature, and complete the process within the mobile app. Businesses that have or are building a mobile workforce should evaluate products that include this functionality.
Relevant digital signature software trends
- Wearable technologies are entering the digital signature market space: Due to an increased risk of signature fraud, businesses are looking for more secure digital signature solutions. One such solution is using wearable technology. Software vendors have started encoding cryptographic keys into smart chips and embedding these chips into wearable devices. When connected to mobile devices via bluetooth, these chips serve as proof of signee identity. Since the adoption of wearable technology among small businesses is on the rise, expect the popularity of this identification method to grow over the next five years.
- Blockchain is the future of digital signature software: The demand for stronger security protocols is also driving the adoption of blockchain technology. Blockchain-powered digital signatures program uses public and private keys of signees to authenticate contracts. As all associated transaction information is available on a publicly distributed network where multiple entities authenticate signatures, instances of fraud are significantly reduced.