Digital Signature vs E-Signature

What is the difference?

What is a digital signature? What is an e-signature? What is the difference between a digital signature and an e-signature? At Signable we get asked these questions all the time. It’s easy to see how people can get confused and not realise there is a difference between the two. Often the two terms are used to mean the same thing.

Thankfully the differences between the two are easy to explain and to understand. We’re here to clear up any confusion around digital signing versus electronic signing.

What is an E-Signature?

An e-signature allows a person to electronically add a signature to an online contract. E-Signatures (or eSignatures) are a digital version of the paper-based method of signing signatures. The act of signing is the same as the traditional method. The signers intent is the same, but the signature is captured electronically rather than handwritten. This removes the need for outdated, paper-based signatures.

E-signatures have quite a few benefits. These include a streamlined signing process, savings on cost and audit trails.

Importantly for businesses they are as legally binding and valid as their paper equivalent in the UK, European Union and beyond. EU eIDAS regulation means your business can use Signable and be confident that things are legal and secure.

This is just a short summation of what e-signatures are. For more information head to our explainer page on electronic signatures and how to use them. Alternatively, check out our free to download ebook which is a great introduction to eSignatures.

What is the difference between an E-Signature and a Digital Signature?

A traditional digital signature is different from the types of e-signatures we describe above. The terms electronic and digital signature are often used interchangeably, however there’s a big difference between the two. It’s important to understand the key differences between Digital Signatures and e-signatures before you invest in software.

For example, someone requesting you to sign documents online or to have an online contract signed will be using e-signatures, not digital signatures.

Technically an e-signature is the equivalent of a digital version of the classic handwritten signature. The term ‘e-signature’ describes the legally binding online signature described in the previous section.

To create a digital signature a different method of validating an online document is required. This involves electronic data, encrypted message and encryption protections. A digital signature can be included in the same category as e-signatures. Both eSignatures & Digital Signatures use algorithms to create a digital fingerprint or private key (or secret key) unique to your document.

Got that? We know that digital signatures can be complicated, but that’s not all.

What is Public Key Infrastructure?

A public key infrastructure (PKI) is a set of policies and procedures. A PKI is needed to create, use, remove or issue digital certificates and manage public-key encryption.

Public and private keys together are known as the key pair. PKIs help to establish the identity of those using them, enabling controlled access to systems and resources, data protection and accountability.

What is Certificate Authority?

You may have come across the term Certificate Authority (CA) at some point. What it means is that there are reliable third-party organizations that ensure key security and provide any necessary digital certifications. Both the sender and the signee must agree to which Certificate Authority they will use.

Need Digital Documents Signed?

With Signable’s signature solution you can easily create an electronic signature and digitally sign documents or send electronic documents. It’s easy to upload documents into Signable, add your signing fields and the signing parties and go from there.

You can use any device to send documents anywhere in the world, as long as you are online. This means your documents arrive instantly with the signer, and can be completed in seconds.

The Signable app is available for both iPad and Android tablets to make life even easier for sending and receiving documents. Signable is also a progressive web app.

You can learn more about the legality of our signatures worldwide with one of our free eSignature legality guides. Find out how e-signatures benefit others in your industry with our free industry guides.

Signable offers a variety of flexible plans perfect for companies of all shapes and sizes. Alternatively, you can try Signable free for 14 days, simply fill in the form below to get started.

Try Signable free for 14 days, get started today! No credit card required for this free trial.

We may send you emails directly about your Signable account. These emails will come directly from Signable and will always be related to your account. You may opt-out of these emails via the link at the bottom of the email that you receive.