Electronic signatures, or e-signatures, are an important feature of managed document solutions. They’re a hassle-free and secure alternative to the traditional pen and paper signature, and their prevalence is increasing among leading organisations across Africa. According to Carla Ralph, a consultant at software training service provider Magenta SA, many African countries are following other areas of the world, such as Europe and North America, in their adoption of e-signatures.
The term ‘e-signature’ refers to an electronic process involving the acceptance of an agreement or record. E-signature solutions involve the use of prevalent electronic authentication processes to verify the identity of the signer, such as email addresses, phone PIN numbers, or corporate IDs. If the signing process needs to be more secure, then multifactor authentication might be required.
It seems appropriate that e-signatures are becoming so popular given the predominance of digital media and communications in this current day and age. The adoption of this tool is just one more example of how companies are investing more and more in digital solutions. In fact it’s a wise move for various reasons.
First, traditional signing processes take more time as they involve having to print the documents first, getting them signed, scanning them back into a digital format, and then mailing them to the intended recipient. With e-signatures, however, the process is simplified and hastened. It merely involves the signer electronically transcribing their signature onto a digital version of the document and then sending it through to the recipient. This means that an administrative task is shortened, making time for more urgent matters.
Then there’s the matter of security. While hardcopies are vulnerable to being damaged, tampered or lost, electronically signed documents are more intact, as they are incapable of being edited. Speaking at a recent webinar, Lydia Webber, a sales specialist in the software industry, noted that “there is less risk of fraud using e-signatures than with paper based documents.”
But it’s not just technological advancement that has necessitated the use of e-signatures. The current prevalence of remote work has made it more practical for workers to sign documents electronically rather than with ink. Documents can be sent over mail, signed, and then sent back in a matter of minutes with no need for printing.
E-signatures are a viable alternative to conventional document signing methods thanks to their practicality and security. The fact that numerous African enterprises are beginning to invest in this technology is a testament to how valuable it is, especially at a time when remote work is becoming the norm.