Digital Signature or Electronic Signature?
What is a digital signature? What is an electronic signature? What is the difference between a digital signature and an electronic 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 and what you may need if you are looking for online document signing.
What is an Electronic Signature?
An electronic signature allows a person to electronically add a signature to an online contract. Electronic Signatures (or eSignatures) are a digital version of the paper-based method of signing signatures, the person with the intent to sign simply electronically signs the document. This removes the need for handwritten signatures.
Electronic 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 electronic signatures and be confident that they are legal and secure.
This is just a short summation of what electronic signatures are. If you would like to know more we have lots of information on our site around electronic documents. Take a look at our article that explains eSignatures or check out our free to download ebook which is a great introduction to eSignatures.
What is the difference between an Electronic Signature and a Digital Signature?
A traditional digital signature is different from the types of electronic signatures we describe above. This is despite the fact that the terms electronic and digital signature are often used interchangeably when people may mean or are looking for different types of signatures.
The terms are often used interchangeably but generally, unless they state differently, someone requesting you to sign documents online or to have an online contract signed will be using electronic signatures.
Technically an electronic signature is the equivalent of a digital version of the classic handwritten signature. The term ‘electronic 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. Whilst a digital signature can be grouped with the category of electronic signature, it uses 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 you can have documents arrive instantly in your client’s inbox thousands of miles away and receive a signature in return quickly.
You can learn more about the legality of electronic signatures worldwide with one of our free eSignature legality guides. You can also find out how an electronic signature can help you based on your industry by taking a look at one of 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.