Wet Signature vs Electronic Signature – how did we get here?
Signatures are a personal thing. I can remember trying to work out a stylish way my name could represent me on paper. I think our attachment’s with wet signatures is more emotional than it is practical. Which might help explain why some businesses seem reluctant to trying document signing software.
But unknowingly, we have been slowly letting go of wet signatures for some time. And now physically signing isn’t always how we show our commitment to a transaction or a contract.
Here’s a quick look at the how other ways we sign, wet signature vs electronic signature and how things have been evolving towards electronic signatures.
The wax seal
A seriously satisfying gif.
After physical signatures, wax seals were used as a stamp of indisputable authenticity, just as wet signatures are looked at today. But, of course, if someone got to your stamp – they could be used by anyone! Use of wax seals has been traced back to the Old Testament, used heavily throughout medieval times and are still used today. Except for today, they are used to stop interference with personal messages and are mostly decorative.
And today you don’t even need your pin if you’re using contactless.
PIN numbers are probably the biggest and most common leap away from wet signatures that we use every day- except we don’t tend to make that distinction! Every time you use your bank card to pay for something, you are using your secure, legal electronic signature in the form of 4 numbers. So when we stopped signing a receipt and checking the card’s signature, and started entering a PIN for payment, it’s no different from changing from physically signing documents to electronically signing documents. Except for being more secure, of course.
Uploading an image as a signature
Because it could be a picture of anything!
I think this way of signing documents illustrates perfectly how we have an image of what a signature should look like. Uploading a picture of our signature creates the illusion that we have signed a document, except the image is just an image. And whilst it represents what our signature looks like, it doesn’t necessarily make it secure and is something that could just as easily be reproduced by someone else, or used by anyone who was able to access that file.
The “agree” button
You clicked, you committed.
Or any button that shows a commitment to something. This is another way we regularly commit digitally without signing. When you registered for your Facebook account, when buying your monthly shop at Tesco or even purchasing an item on eBay – clicking OK is how you sign an online contract. No manual signing, and no different to an electronic signature.
I like to imagine this dog is very excited to sign a contract he just received.
And here we are. The Electronic Communications Act came into play in 2000 with the eIDAS Regulation following in July 2016. Standardising the regulations across Europe. And slowly businesses have made the leap to adopt e-signing.
Wet Signature vs Electronic Signature
From a validity standpoint; there is no difference between traditional signatures and electronic signatures, but when it comes to practicality – there’s a world of difference! You can start to make the change to electronic signatures today by signing up for our free 14 day trial here. Setting it up is simple, but if you have any problems we have lots of help articles, or you can just get in touch.