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Digital signatures secured with ID verification gaining ground in regulated sectors

Digital signatures secured with ID verification gaining ground in regulated sectors

E-signatures are changing the way the regulated sectors protect the integrity of the signing process, according to a Thematic Intelligence analysis from GlobalData published by Verdict.

As many as 88 percent of the top 100 firms have invested in e-signatures, according to a 2021 PwC Law Firms Survey.

In the UK and EU e-signatures are legally equivalent to wet ink signatures as a result of the EU’s eIDAS regulation, while the E-SIGN Act and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) accomplishes the same in the U.S.

eIDAS regulation establishes Simple (SES), Advanced (AES), and Qualified (QES) Electronic Signatures, with QES offering the highest level of security. QES requires a face-to-face or equivalent ID verification process by a Qualified Trust Service Provider. They’re used for highly regulated industries, like real estate, finance, healthcare, and government.

Digital signatures can also be integrated into document management systems and automate the signing of signature fields. The system would allow organizations to send documents directly to the signer, who can return it directly to the sender. This fights tampering and forgery risks, which is especially relevant as last year, the UK saw the highest volume of fraud reported to the UK’s National Fraud Database, and identity fraud constituted 70 percent of all cases.

Scanning, printing, and mailing documents would be eliminated, providing environmental and cost benefits.

Switching to electronic document signing could help a single law firm cut 805.895kg of carbon emissions each year and could save £400,000 (roughly US$488,800) annually through reduced printing costs, faster completion of administrative tasks, and reduced paper document storage costs, according to research from Liverpool John Moores University and E-Sign.

Yoti touts faster turnarounds, improved accessibility, integrated IDV safeguards

Digital signing in place of its physical counterpart can lead to improved access and faster turnarounds. eSignatures can also be more accessible for those with limited mobility or who cannot easily access a Post Office, notes a Yoti blog post.

Yoti found that 70 percent of documents sent electronically are signed within a day.

An eSignature system still should have authentication checks integrated into the process, especially for sensitive transactions like legal agreements, contracts, and consent forms.

It’s still true that anyone with access to the appropriate link can open and sign an electronic document. Identity verification improves security to protect the integrity of the signing process. A variety of ID verification processes should be offered for greater inclusivity and accessibility.

One-time document verification, reusable digital IDs, or selfie-with-signature features are all different avenues for ID verification and signing.

Yoti’s “eSign with Selfie” requires a user to submit a selfie at the time of signing with liveness and presentation attack detection.

Another benefit for electronic signing is that it can also easily be tracked with an accompanying eSignature platform. Entities could use the platform to easily check document status, find signatories, and maintain a detailed record of the transaction.

Proof Certificates to strengthen e-signing and online notarization integrity

Online notarization and digital identity provider Proof has introduced Proof Certificates for increased confidence in digital notarization, confirming the intended party is signing a digital document.

In the release, Proof cites a FINCEN report that states false records are the second most costly form of identity fraud in the U.S. and are responsible for $45 billion in fraudulent activity each year.

Past forms of eSignatures have historically been unable to verify that the intended person has signed the document. FINRA Regulatory Notice 22-18 warned of digital signature forgery and fraud.

Moreover, even notarized paper documents can be forged if a notary’s seal is stolen. Online notarization has leveraged video recording and other identity tools, but there’s still the problem of securing a notary’s digital seal.

Proof Certificates are issued to notaries after their identity has been verified. The notarizations have been audited to meet WebTrust standards. A green checkmark will appear for Proof Certificates in Adobe Reader.

“Proof is the only notarization platform that is trusted by Adobe, because we’re issuing certificates that meet an incredibly high security standard,” says Proof CEO Pat Kinsel.

Starting in May, Proof Certificates will be available for free for each notary in the Notarize Network. They are natively integrated within the Proof Platform and will be deployed across the entire platform in the months that follow as Notarize Network members migrate as their current certificates expire and renew.

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