Author: Eugenia Marziali, Legal Specialist at CIO Landing
In today’s fast-paced business world, electronic signatures (e-signatures) and digital signatures have become increasingly popular ways to sign documents remotely and quickly. But what is the difference between the two? E-signatures are simply a way to electronically sign a document, such as typing your name into a PDF or using a touch screen to sign on a tablet. On the other hand, digital signatures use encryption and authentication methods to ensure the signer is whom they say they are and that the document has not been tampered with.
eSignatures and digital signatures are both electronic versions of traditional, hand-written signatures, but they have some key differences:
Functionality: eSignatures are typically used to indicate agreement or acceptance of a document, while digital signatures use a form of encryption to ensure the authenticity of the signer and the integrity of the document being signed. Digital signatures are typically used for legal or financial transactions, requiring a higher level of security and authentication.
Compliance: eSignatures are legally binding in many countries, including the United States and European Union, but digital signatures are often required for specific industries or transactions, such as financial services or government documents.
Technology: eSignatures can be any electronic image of a signature and can be created using a variety of technologies, such as typing your name, drawing a signature using a mouse or stylus, or using a signature capture device. Digital Signatures, on the other hand, rely on certificate-based technology which is provided by a trusted third party called a certificate authority (CA). This certificate is used to encrypt the signature and ensure its authenticity.
Audibility: eSignatures have basic audibility features that allow tracking who signed and when, while digital signatures have more advanced features, such as timestamping, which can provide a more detailed and secure record of the signing process.
In summary, eSignatures are typically used for simple agreements and approvals, while digital signatures offer a higher level of security and authentication, making them more suitable for legal and financial transactions.
Some eSignature platforms can also provide some level of security by allowing the user to set up authentication methods such as password protection, one-time passcodes, and biometric identification to confirm the identity of the signer before allowing them to sign the document.