What Is An E-Signature – Everything You Need To Know

E-Signature for business

What Is An E Signature?

The computerized equivalent of a wet ink signature is called an electronic signature or e signature. These signatures are unique to the document that needs to be signed by all parties and authenticated. Electronic signatures are easy-to-use alternatives to written signatures and make signatures faster and more secure.

Doing E signature online is an easy and efficient method for executing any official agreement. The process of validating a document involves simply entering an OTP received on the signer’s email or mobile phone. Once an agreement has been electronically signed, data concerning the signers, their location, IP addresses, and remarks are all stored to verify the signed document’s legitimacy.

Digital signatures, on the other hand, are established by hash algorithms or a group of algorithms like DSA and RSA that combine public and private key encryption. When the sender signs the message digest—not the actual data—with the private key, a digital thumbprint is created to identify the data as having been sent.

It’s crucial to emphasize that all instruments used to sign a document digitally have a numerical focus. The private key (which is already in character form) and the document to be signed are both converted into a new set of encrypted characters using crypto algorithms in digital signature systems.

The legality of e signatures in India is governed by both the Indian Contract Act and the IT Act 2000 together. The IT Act stipulates that the signer must get a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) from a Certifying Authority (CA) that has been permitted by the Controller of Certifying Authorities to establish e signatures (CCA). Users are now able to sign PDFs and other documents electronically.

E-Signatures: A Brief Overview

  • E signatures validate documents and make it possible for authorized individuals to determine the document’s origin, author, and other parties involved. It is simple to use the electronic signing method, in which digital signatures typically require a one-step authentication using OTP to sign.
  • However, e signatures do not give noticeably high levels of document security. Generally, eSigns contain a simple encryption technique, which makes it possible to alter the signed document if they end up in the wrong hands.
  • Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are legally acceptable in India under the Information Technology Act 2000. DSCs are issued by Licensed Certifying Authorities (CAs) under the Ministry of Information Technology, making them as authentic and valid as any wet or physical signature. Under the Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act of 1882, electronic signatures also function as proof of signature and a presumption to electronic agreements.
  • Reports suggest that at a projected CAGR of 36.1% during the forecast periods, the global market for e signing documents online is expected to increase from USD 4.05 billion in 2022 to USD 35.03 billion in 2029.

Are E-Signatures Legally Valid?

The Indian Contract Act and the IT Act, 2000 together govern the legality of e signatures in India.

The term “electronic signature,” which includes a digital signature, is defined in Section 2(1)(a) as a subscriber’s method of authenticating an electronic record using the electronic methodology listed in the Second Schedule.

The Information Technology Act of 2000’s Section 3 allows for procurement associated with electronic record validation.

According to Section 5 of the Information Technology Act 2000, which describes the legal recognition of electronic signatures, eSign or electronic signatures are digital signatures applied to electronic documents. All e signatures must also have a valid acknowledgment.

A subscriber may authenticate an electronic record with a reliable electronic signature or as specified in the Second Schedule of the IT Act, 2000, according to Section 3A of the Act.

An e signature is regarded legitimate if all of the following conditions are met, according to Section 3A, Schedule 3 of the IT Act, 2000:

  • The data generated during signature formation and authentication is exclusively related between the signatory and the authenticator.
  • The electronic document’s signatory has the intent to sign and control the electronic signature, not anyone else.
  • Any changes made to a signature, information, data, or anything else are visible and detectable.
  • It satisfies the conditions imposed by the Central Government through an announcement in the Official Gazette.
  • Essentially, approved CAs that issue esign online are always ipso facto valid. In contrast, every other type of e signature must show its dependability and validity per Section 3A (as described above).

Section 5 of the Amendment to the IT Act, 2000, states that any reliable signature that fulfills these criteria is legally accepted and legitimate.

IT Act mandates the following requirements for a valid e signature:

  • To perform an esign online, the electronic signature and the document’s signer must be uniquely connected. A digital ID based on a digital certificate is typically issued to address this criterion.
  • Modifications to the document to which the associated e signature is related must be accessible. The document is encrypted and sealed with a tamper-evident seal to achieve this.
  • The digital signature certificate must be issued by a Certifying Authority (CA) recognized by the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) authorized under the IT Act.
  • There should be an audit trail available that outlines the procedures followed throughout the process of e sign documents online.
  • The electronic document’s signatory intends to sign and control the electronic signature, not anyone else.
  • Any changes made to a signature, information, data, or anything else are visible and detectable.
  • The data used to create the e signature must be entirely under the signer’s control at the time of signing. Most online e signature service providers enable signers to immediately attach their e signature to the document to satisfy this requirement.

Which Documents can be eSigned?

The majority of commercial and private transactions entail the legal acceptance of e signatures. Now the bigger question that arises is which documents are eligible for eSignatures.

  • Offer letters

A letter outlining the main conditions of employment is delivered by a company to a prospective employee.

  • Rental/lease agreements

A rental agreement is a written rental contract between the owner of the property and a tenant who wants to occupy it temporarily.

  • Sales Contracts

A contract for the sale of goods is an agreement in writing between a buyer and a seller to buy goods for a specific sum of money.

  • Permission slips

A permission slip is a document that a school or other organization sends home with a student and asks the parent to sign authorizing minors to travel on behalf of the school or organization for an event like a field trip.

  • Financial Statements

Financial statements are formal records of the financial acts and circumstances of a corporation, an individual, or another institution.

  • Liability releases

A participant in an activity must sign a liability waiver to accept the risks involved in that activity. By doing this, the corporation aims to remove legal liability from the entity or person in charge of the conduct.

Choose From Multiple E Signature Variants To Sign Documents Instantly 

SignDesk offers multiple e signatures. Firms can choose a suitable kind of e sign & manage their signature processes digitally. The platform also provides the option of free e signatures for specific e signature options. Businesses can try out e signatures on their digital documents from the options available:

  • OTP-Based E Signature

A fast & simple way to sign documents electronically, this e signature option helps users sign documents on the fly. The signer gets a one-time password (OTP) via mobile or over email. The OTP is entered to complete e signing the document.

OTP e signature benefits any business that wants to finish document signing procedures faster including retail businesses, FMCG firms, HR consultancies, etc.

  • Aadhaar E Signature

This type of e signature is also authenticated via a one-time password (OTP). The signer’s information is obtained from the UIDAI database, after which he receives an OTP on his Aadhaar-linked mobile number when he initiates e signing. The signer enters the OTP to e sign the document.

Aadhaar e signature is applicable mainly in the BFSI sector & helps banks, insurance companies, registered securities intermediaries, & regulated financial institutions manage their document signature workflows securely.

  • DSC Signature

This e signaturet enables businesses to secure digital documents. DSC or Digital Signature Certificates use a digital workflow to encrypt documents securely. DSCs help companies quickly verify documents.

DSC  e signatures are particularly beneficial for companies with high-security requirements, including tech businesses & large enterprises.

  • Video-Based E Signature

This e signature allows businesses to create video-based evidence for consent. The signer gets on a video recording where he consents to the clauses set out in the document & approves them on video.

Video e signatures offer a live, virtual method of signing documents & enable businesses to offer a convenient, remote authentication method for their customers.

How Do E Signatures Work?

e signatures can be formed in certain manners with the help of eSign software services. The process through which eSign can be created are:

OTP-based e signatures

One can sign individual papers by sending an OTP verification to the interested party’s registered mobile number and email address. This OTP-based workflow is used by both Aadhaar and electronic signatures. It can be understood from the steps mentioned below:

  • Log In: The user needs to log into SignDesk’s eSign website.
  • Upload Document: The user must upload the document that needs to be signed onto the eSigning portal. Alternatively, templates can be used to draft documents.
  • Invite Signers: An email / SMS invitation is sent to the required stakeholders to sign the uploaded document.
  • e Signature: Parties accept the invitation and electronically sign the provided document within minutes using an OTP supplied to their Aadhaar-registered mobile number or digital signatures.
  • Copies Sent: Once the document has been authenticated using e signatures, SignDesk transmits the signed copy to all parties involved.
  • Store & Download:The e signed document is saved and made available to all signers and stakeholders for download.

USB Token e signatures

In this hardware-based signature, a USB Token is inserted with a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC). It uses the PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) to establish signatures and may be accessed through a computer to sign documents in bulk electronically. The steps involved are as follows:

  • Insert the USB Token into the system.
  • Install the necessary drivers on your USB Token. These drivers are provided by the DSC issuing authority for tokens and can also be simply downloaded from web portals that provide eSign.
  • The users can view the material via the web browser. In general, all digital certificates are listed under the certificate sections. The user can also check the legitimacy and characteristics of the installed drivers from here.
  • The drivers are loaded on the USB device and the file to be signed is downloaded in PDF format.
  • Save the downloaded PDF file to the location of one’s choice on the hard drive.
  • Use Adobe Acrobat PDF readers or any other comparable software to open the downloaded PDF file.
  • Personalized authentication options will then appear shortly after marking the signature area.
  • Customized certificate details will then appear for the user’s reference.
  • To encrypt the signed document, enter the private key issued with the Digital Signature Certificates.
  • After digitally signing, one can save this signed PDF document.
  • The signed copy can be kept for future reference.

The Advantages of electronic signatures For Businesses

e signatures hold a unique advantage over their physical counterparts. Businesses typically leverage e signatures for the following reasons.

Advantages - e signature

  • Virtual Audit Trail

Specific information on each signer on the document may be included in accreditations of closure that are more detailed. The consumer disclaimer stating that the signer consented to use electronic signatures, the signature image, key event timestamps, the signer’s IP address, and other identifying data are all included.

  • Time and Cost Efficient

Many companies and organizations keep electronic documents, which lessens the need for storage space. An electronic signing saves time as it does not require printing out documents and running around to get them signed. Additionally, signed documents are simpler to distribute to multiple stakeholders.

  • Safety and Security

E signatures are more secure than physically written signatures. Bad actors trying to forge electronic signatures can only do so by knowing the password to the computer and the signing certificate.

  • Authenticity 

Electronic signatures’ main benefit is their reliability. By prohibiting imposters from providing false information or any unfair activity with files, e signatures maintain the security of electronic documents.

  • Scalability

E signature frees parties from running around to places to get a deal done and facilitates the expansion of an organization. Electronic document signature applications can enhance productivity by minimizing document signing wait times.

  • Better Customer Experience

Clients may sign quickly and easily from any location and device! Connecting an e signature solution to client portal software is essential in an age when clients want real-time access to documents.

E Signature: Quick & Seamless Solutions For Industries

The emergence of e signature and its advantages have benefitted many industries that require signatures daily. The industries that utilize the convenience of e signatures are as follows:

  • Finance:

Millions of documents, including contracts, consent forms, mandate forms, and sanction letters, are handled daily by banks, NBFCs, and other financial institutions.

Integrating SignDesk’s e signature software and eSign workflow into any bank’s loan authorization, cheque truncation, CRM, or ERP processes allows banks to produce, e sign, and manage digital documents online.

Finance teams require an eSign solution to streamline their documentation activities. With SignDesk’s Aadhaar e signature solution, finance teams can quickly draft  agreements, get them approved by management, and eSigned in minutes.

  • Legal:

Paper documents impede legal firms more than any other industry. Documentation is the most important part of every legal expert, and companies spend days drafting, negotiating, and signing legal agreements.

Agreements & contracts are churned out on a massive scale by legal teams across sectors. Aadhaar e signature with templatization features helps legal teams seamlessly draft, approve, negotiate & execute agreements on a single platform. SignDesk’s e signature solution also creates a strong audit trail and offers signer verification features to help legal teams ensure compliance and perform due diligence.

  • Retail:

Businesses in the retail and FMCG sector swift and effective if they want to remain successful. Vendor agreements must be drafted swiftly, shared with vendors quickly, and signed even more quickly.

eCommerce and Retail outlets also require contracts to be signed when it comes to deals in which eSign can make the whole process easier between the seller and the buyer. While the retailers require to handle multiple vendors at one go to ensure smooth operations, digital signature helps in smoothing the entire process.

SignDesk’s e signature solution features legally valid contract templates, automated eSign workflow & OTP-based e signatures, for businesses to rapidly onboard vendors and get agreements eSigned to streamline supply chains.

  • Healthcare and Medical:

With the use of tailored eSign procedures, healthcare companies may automate the majority of their documentation, freeing up more time for patient care. E-signature-based documentation solutions provide a wide range of templates for healthcare facilities to create agreements and patient forms in bulk. Pre-authorization paperwork, medical claims documents, personalized prescription slips, and other documents are among the templates available.

After creating medical documents online, they are digitally validated by all involved parties and forwarded to all relevant stakeholders for e signatures.

Electronic signatures, Aadhaar signatures, PAN-based signatures, and DSC (Digital Signature Certificate) signatures are all used to e sign the document.

  • Insurance:

Insurers can quickly generate policies and eSign insurance documents with an e signature system and an automated eSign technique. IRDAI has issued a circular allowing all general and health insurers to issue electronic health plans and enabling consumers to consent to proposal forms using digital OTP-based procedures in the most recent push for total digitization.

Insurers can utilize extensive template libraries to draft insurance documentation, invite multiple healthcare providers, hospital managers, and executives to e sign these documents, and manage them on an intelligent dashboard.

Fast & Secure E Signatures – How To Simplify Document Execution With SignDesk 

SignDesk’s e signature solution helps businesses across industries streamline & expedite their document execution workflows. SignDesk’s industry-ready e signature solution is easy to integrate into approval workflows & enables enterprises to manage their signature processes digitally. Here is why businesses should use SignDesk’s premier e signature solution:

  • Multiple E Signature Types: Businesses can choose from options like Aadhaar-based e sign or Digital Signature Certificate (DSC). Alternatively, options such as video-based & OTP e signatures are available. 
  • Instant Document Creation: SignDesk’s e signature solution offers several customizable document templates & an extensive clause library that helps firms draft documents on the spot & carry out the signature process faster. 
  • Intuitive Dashboard: SignDesk’s e signature solution has a user-friendly dashboard that manages large volumes of documents & their signature process on a single platform. 
  • Real-time Notifications: Agreement stakeholders will receive timely reminders & activity status updates for their e signature workflows so that document execution timelines stay on track. 
  • Highly Secure: e signatures on SignDesk assure industry-grade security through data encryption. In addition, all parties will receive audit reports once the e sign workflow is complete. 

Businesses can opt for an e signature free trial to see how SignDesk can make their signature workflows fast, efficient & easy to manage.

Ink.It: SignDesk’s Solution for Instant E-Signatures

Thanks to our e signature workflow and document management technology, our clients have been able to reduce the time it takes to execute a contract from 10 to 20 days to under 10 minutes when signing a PDF online. Using online eSign services and templates, signers can instantly eSign PDF files, and our intelligent management software keeps track of all your company documents.

Along with PAN-based signature, DSC signature, and Aadhar eSign, we also provide options for PDF electronic signing. Aadhaar eSign is the most widely used type of digital signature and is also the safest and most secure one.

Businesses may generate, eSign, and manage all of their business documents using Ink.it. Using online esign pdf services can improve the efficiency of the corporate paperwork process.

SignDesk provides e signature free account on the eSign workflow platform to eSign PDF online with an unlimited number of electronic signatures or to delegate the online signing of PDF to others.

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