In light of our current circumstances, digital signing and approval solutions offer convenience, increased productivity, reduced costs, reduced risks, and improved customer experience.
The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we conduct business. Many companies have closed their offices and established remote workforces, leading to a dramatic rise in digitalisation in almost every sector of business. It’s a learning curve for everyone, and everyone is trying to make working from home as efficient, enjoyable, and productive as possible.
Crucially, businesses need to be able to enter into and conclude transactions, maintain electronic records and meet regulatory record-keeping requirements. Cloud-based systems provide a totally secure out-of-band mechanism to transfer sensitive documents to recipients, with a full audit trail and proof of delivery. Digital signing solutions vastly improve the speed of sending sensitive documents and ensure that your business is never held up by complicated paper processes.
“Even before the pandemic, the paper-based, manual sending, printing, scanning, or ink-signing of physical documents had become cumbersome and expensive,” says JP Lourens, solutions manager at Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa. “In light of our current circumstances, digital signing and approval solutions offer the perfect alternative.”
Electronic document signing technology, which applies to online agreements, as well as paper documents, offers many benefits, including convenience and ease of use, speed of document turnaround time, increased productivity, reduced costs, reduced risks and additional document security, accessibility from anywhere, and improved customer experience. With no printing of paperwork, it’s also environmentally friendly.
An electronic signature is a legally recognised means of conveying the signatory’s consent to the contents of a document. It is data attached to, incorporated in, or logically associated with other data, and intended by the user to serve as a signature. It may take the form of a traditional wet-ink signature on a soft-copy of a document; a name typed in electronic format at the bottom of an email; an ‘I accept’ tick box on a website; or an e-pen or finger signature on a tablet, for example.
In South Africa, electronic signatures are approved under the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA). Although there are some exceptions, most business-related documents can be signed digitally.
Standard electronic signatures (SES) are the most widely used e-signatures for business purposes.
Any company operating in the country can use e-signatures as a signing method, and they have the same legal binding status as wet ink applied or handwritten signatures.
Advanced electronic signatures (AES) are verified by an accredited authority and have a higher level of credibility as they comply with specific requirements.
They are binding when a method was used to identify the person, there was intention to sign, approval of the information communicated, and the method used was reliable and appropriate for purpose.
“We provide our customers with an easy solution to get documents signed off electronically, ensuring that they are recognised as an authentic and legally binding agreement,” says Lourens.
The process is simple. The document owner uploads the file to a custom-built secure platform and identifies who needs to sign it, and in which order. The cloud-based service comes with the added convenience of allowing a user to access these documents anywhere and use any platform or device. Kyocera’s workflow management system then follows the sequence of the signing order, notifying each user along the way. Once everyone on the approval list has signed and authorised the document, it is circulated for review and then stored.
The solution is securely hosted in the cloud and is entirely web-based, which is how the solution can offer complete security when it comes to sending and receiving documents, as well as a workflow evidence report with a complete audit trail of the document and signers.
“Our customers can be confident that their sensitive and valuable documents can be uploaded to a workflow solution where each witness and signatory can sign it, regardless of where they are in the world, and then pass it on to the next party electronically, who can do the same. The signed, legal documents are secure, and can be uploaded to the cloud or saved to a computer and each party is in possession of an original. It’s all about peace of mind and ease of use.”