How Covid-19 is affecting the digital signature industry
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep the globe, forcing governments to implement strict quarantining and shelter-in-place requirements, these same governments have also recognized a new digital age side effect, which is the need for digital signatures, some of which include biometrics, during the pandemic to prove the identity of individuals and institutions’ representatives who may be in isolation for two weeks or longer.
“They have come to realize digital transformation is no longer optional,” explained Techsign DOC, a company that provides what it describes as an “AI backed agreement platform where people can request signature, sign, amend, reject contracts, and monitor their contract workflows.”
“Out of five provided eSigning methods (Smart ID/Card Reader, electronic signature, e-signature, smooth pass, biometric signature) two are featured: Biometric Signature & Smooth Pass,” the firm said.
The biometric signature component, Techsign DOC says, is “unlike other digital signature types” in that it “is a qualified authentication method where we capture both the physical and behavioral parameters of the signer. This makes is verifiable and eligible to use in enterprise and even in government level documents. Secondly, signing is authenticating. Smooth Pass is a FIDO compliant signing method allowing people to sign with their face, voice, iris, and fingerprint without sharing any of their data. Verification process takes place within their device.”
The firm says its Techsign DOC Agreement Cloud “is a comprehensive tool for all sizes of businesses to have full control over their legally binding contract flows,” which as the pandemic shutters both governments and businesses, is a technology more and more have been turning to keep business and continuity of governments operating, whether they are using Techsign DOC’s technology or not.
Meanwhile Notarize, a primarily Washington, D.C.-based organization, has experienced 30 percent daily growth, CEO Patrick Kinsel recently Tweeted, and in response has an allotted team of notaries who notarize through a sequence of steps.
It is now clear that the worst pandemic during the modern digital information age will lead to more and more companies developing these types of legally binding instrument technologies. Because there will be more pandemics and more outbreaks of high mortality human transmissible infectious diseases. Covid-19 simply has unfortunately served as the lethal wake-up call for governments and businesses to be prepared for all contingencies.
In a new post-Covid-19 pandemic survey by Klaviyo of how the gamut of companies are faring, one owner was quoted saying, “We’ll come out stronger,” but adding “the business has had to learn to operate more efficiently and [to] embrace digital fully in order to carry on trading.”
Similarly, Techcrunch noted early this month that “startup CEOs ought to consider operational, organizational, and financial workarounds. Operationally, they can take steps to prepare for a virtual workplace by establishing clear methods of digital communication and metrics to ensure productivity.”
Indeed, Covid-19 has, and will continue to bring a “new normal” to the world.
As TechSign DOC observed, “Despite the unprecedented crisis in the economy, the value increase continues in companies that enable remote signing,” the company observed, adding that the drift in the NASDAQ index “does not seem to apply for digital signature companies.” But “beyond the digital signature,” the opening is certainly escalating for businesses – and governments – which embrace digitalization, and, more importantly, understand it is a preparedness necessity, the same as having adequate stockpiles and reserves of ventilators, N95 masks, and Personal Protective Equipment.
“Governments are also recognizing the need for digital signatures” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced it would be recognizing digital signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, especially on T183 or T183CORP.
Notarize said CRA’s announcement is “a transient measure due to Covid-19, but” predicted it “will also lead to lasting change.”
As TechSign DOC accurately pointed out in a statement, the Covid-19 pandemic had made “its mark on 2020 as an event that completely affected our lives and changed our habits. Our way of doing business, our daily movements, our understanding of sociality, our business strategies proved that they can change at once.”
In its statement about the problem, the company pointed out that, “In 2020, you can buy a home using a virtual signature, but you still should print and signal your will/POA – for precise reason, many would argue, when you consider that the motive of witnesses to your will is to make certain an man or woman created those legal files in sound thoughts without duress. That’s hard to do with Docusign on the grounds that it’s easy to forge a signature – that’s the larger trouble with any digital signature, whether or not it’s on a will, contract, or every other legal documents. How do you confirm that a specific individual is simply signing a specific report online?”
And that is a very good point. The United States is ahead of Canada in adopting digital signatures for wills, according to the company. The “Nonprofit organization, Uniform Law Commission, drafted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act, which could act as a version for” for individuals, governments, and businesses “to adopt,” and “several states inclusive of Nevada and Indiana already permit e-signatures, with more expected to follow fit in 2020.”
But digital signatures are not just essential for wills. They are vital for any document “that needs to be notarized, which includes actual property transaction documents or auto coverage claims. Right now going in-character to a notary is hard if not impossible.”
“The US permits virtual notarization of wills and other files through Notarize” in which “users upload or take a photo of the record … to be notarized, input the closing four digits in their social security number, answer five identification verification questions within two minutes, and publish a photo of their image ID. After being verified, users hook up with a notary through video and they finish the procedure through adding their signature and stamp.”
TechSign DOC concluded saying, “While Covid-19 will have a number of terrible lasting consequences on our lives, one fine change it can encourage is the adoption by using lawmakers and regulatory bodies of digital signatures. Whether it’s due to the fact we have to or because we want to,” there will be times – likely during large-scale emergencies – when the capability is required to sign legally-binding digital documents online.
Provided the electric grid has not collapsed.