What is a wet signature and do you need one?

What is a wet signature and do you need one?

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What is a wet signature? 

A wet signature is a term used to describe the traditional process of signing physical documents using a pen (wet ink.) A wet signature signifies a persons’ agreement to the contents of a document and enters them into a binding contract. 

The rise of electronic signatures however means that today, the majority of contracts or agreements no longer require a wet signature and can instead be concluded electronically using eSigning software. 

Implementing eSignatures not only reduces the physically demanding nature of wet signatures, but can also help to cut printing and postage costs, as well as reduce your carbon footprint. A win win!

The difference between wet signatures and electronic signatures 

Wet signatures and electronic signatures both have the same aim: to signify acceptance of a contract or transaction. Here’s how they differ:

Wet signature: A person physically signs a piece of paper with pen and ink, usually by writing their name or initials.

Electronic signature: A person acknowledges the contents of an electronic document, either by typing their name, digitally writing their signature on a touchscreen device, or using eSigning software.

Essentially, an electronic signature is the digital equivalent of a wet signature and the main difference is that eSignatures are faster, more efficient, and can be completed from anywhere. 

When is a wet signature still required? 

Thanks to ​​eIDAS regulations in the EU and UK, and the ESIGN act in the United States, electronic signatures are recognised as a valid alternative to handwritten signatures and are as legally binding as their counterparts.

Despite this global recognition of eSignatures, there are still some instances where a wet signature is mandatory to meet legal signature requirements in the UK.

Certain legal documents pertaining to wills, deeds and lasting powers of attorney for example, must still be signed in person with a wet signature. 

For most business contracts however, you can safely assume that an electronic signature is acceptable and legally valid. If you’re ever unsure, you should consult a legal professional.

Are wet signatures more secure than eSignatures?

The validity and identity of wet ink signatures are established by testimonies from witnesses or handwriting experts who were present at the signing. Not only is this process expensive and time consuming, but relies wholly on the human element which is somewhat unreliable.

E-signatures on the other hand contain a secure electronic record, making them less susceptible to forgery. Documents signed with Signable come with SSL encryption, a full audit log, and digital certificate of signature alongside many other security measures. 

The downsides to wet signatures 

Wet signatures not only cost unnecessary time and money for businesses but come with the following disadvantages

Higher turnaround times 

When collecting wet signatures, businesses are fully reliant on postal services or couriers, and have to contend with things such as public holidays or strikes. With eSignatures, documents can be signed almost instantly, from anywhere. 

Customer experience

Why would your customers want to wait for their document to be delivered when they could sign it with the simple click of a button? Electronic signatures provide an efficient and stress-free user experience for your customers, allowing them the flexibility to sign instantly from anywhere in the world. 

Privacy and security

Wet signatures are vulnerable to tampering and forgeries as well as damage, theft and loss. Electronic documents however are stored securely online and are SSL encrypted. Signable also offers two factor authentication on your account enabling us to verify your identity and keep your documents secure.

Do we still need wet signatures?

It’s fair to say that electronic signatures have replaced traditional wet ink signatures in most business transactions. Switching to an electronic signature software provider can give your business a competitive edge in your market. 

It’s important however to choose an eSigning platform that streamlines your business processes. Signable’s solution makes digital contracting simple and more secure. Our range of automation features do all the hard work so you can focus on running your business.

Swap wet signatures for eSignatures today and discover how efficient electronic signing can be. Sign up for our 14-day free trial today – no payment required!