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A Comprehensive Guide to Electronic Signatures

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– 5 February 2020 –

Eighty percent of businesses still struggle with paper-based processes that are slow, error-prone, and fragmented. They spend countless hours hunting down approvals and ink signatures – and then print, scan, fax or mail documents to get the job done. These delays frustrate all those involved and can potentially cause delays that lead to financial loss for one or more parties. At Excel, we have experience of all manner of issues with “physically” signed contracts in relation to a rental property and so we were keen to find a solution that improves all aspects of the process.

We have recently adopted “e-signing” at Excel, specifically using a platform called Adobe Sign. Adobe Sign helps businesses transform paper processes, making 100% digital workflows possible with trusted and legal e-signatures. With Adobe Sign, we can now:

  • Get signatures in minutes, not days – we can easily request signatures from all parties, sign documents, and track and manage the entire process electronically
  • Work anywhere, on any device – Signers click a link to sign documents from any location, at any time of day, using a browser or mobile device. No account sign-ups or downloads are required
  • Ensure legal and security compliance – Adobe Sign delivers the highest levels of security, availability, and legal compliance. They are the world’s trusted leader in secure digital documents and standout digital experiences.

What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature, or e-signature, is a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. One of the most relied upon definitions of an electronic signature defines an electronic signature as: “…an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record …adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”

Electronic signatures are:

  1. Legal – Electronic signatures are legally binding in nearly every industrialized nation, and even less developed countries are beginning to enact e-signature laws. In the European Union, the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation (eIDAS) took effect in July 2016. Other countries have enacted similar laws as well. To learn more about signature laws, read Global Guide to Electronic Signature Laws: Country by Country.
  2. Tested – Adobe Sign has been the highest-rated e-signature app in the Salesforce AppExchange since 2006. Many Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, and tens of thousands of small to medium businesses rely on Adobe Sign to process tens of millions of agreements every year.
  3. Secure – Electronic signatures are more secure than written and fax signatures. Adobe Sign manages the complete process, including routing documents, guiding signatures or approvals, generating notifications, and storing signed documents in a secure environment. In addition, the final document is certified with a tamper-evident seal.
  4. Auditable – The process of gathering electronic signatures from multiple parties is completely tracked to ensure compliance. Adobe Sign maintains a detailed audit trail that logs all events and actions taken by the people who participated in the transaction.
  5. Verifiable – Electronic signature processes can use a variety of methods to authenticate the identity of signers. Typical “e-signature” processes send the document to be signed to a specified email address and use the recipient’s access to that email account as a basic form of authentication

How are electronic signatures better than paper or fax signatures?

Electronic signatures are more secure — and get the job done faster and more environmentally friendly — than paper-based signatures. Electronic signatures:

  1. Apply to the entire document – If a paper contract has two or more pages and the signature is applied only to a single page, unsigned pages could be changed without anyone’s knowledge. With Adobe Sign, a cryptographic binding is applied to the entire document before delivering a PDF of the final, signed document to all parties, creating a certified document with a tamper-evident seal. If any information changes on any page, Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader software display a notification that the document’s certification is no longer valid.
  2. Can be tracked and managed efficiently – Electronic signature processes driven by Adobe Sign provide complete visibility into the signature process, letting us keep track of document status in real time
  3. Can’t be duplicated with a copier or scanner – It’s too easy to forge a paper signature by copying it, scanning it, or tracing it with a pen. With Adobe Sign, a signature is bound to a specific instance of the document and tracked as part of a multi-step signature process.
  4. Can’t be backdated – With paper signatures, signers are free to enter any date or time they choose, making it possible for one of the parties to change the “active” date of the signing without notifying other parties. With Adobe Sign, the time is centrally managed by the hosted service and backdating is not allowed.
  5. Are much easier to authenticate – Authenticating a paper signature requires another handwritten signature from the same signer for forensic comparison. If additional signature samples aren’t available, authenticity can’t be proven. With Adobe Sign, multiple authentication methods can be applied to guarantee the identity of people signing documents.
  6. Are similar to using a notary, but without the hassle – Paper signatures can be made more secure if you work with a trusted third party like a notary, but the in-person signing ceremony adds costs and delays to the signing process.
  7. Prevent documents from being defaced – Paper documents can be defaced when signers cross out text in the document. Electronic signature processes driven by Adobe Sign protects the integrity of the original document so information cannot be hidden or removed.

To find out more about this and other ways that we are improving performance and enhancing service levels in the Lettings industry, make sure you are following us on all social platforms to get the latest news and updates.

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