Why are wet signatures being replaced by electronic signatures? Relying exclusively on wet signatures is costly. Waiting for signed agreements and completed contracts takes time and money. Technology is expanding our ways of signing, and electronic signatures are creating faster and easier ways to do business when compared to the more traditional form.
This post outlines what is meant by the term "wet signature" and the downsides of collecting them. We also discuss when electronic signatures can replace wet signatures and the advantages of doing so.
What will you find in this post?
- What is a wet signature?
- What are the downsides of collecting wet signatures?
- When can an electronic signature replace a wet signature?
- What are the advantages of electronic signatures over wet signatures?
What is a wet signature?
When you hear the word “signature”, what springs to mind?
You are likely thinking of a wet signature. For centuries, it has been the most accepted form of proving the legal validity of documents.
Putting your name to paper with an ink pen, marking a simple X, using name seals or stamps all suffice in creating this type of signature. It is referred to as a “wet” signature as the ink or wax used needs time to dry after marking the document.
However, the concept of how we sign is evolving. The creation and use of electronic signatures are exposing the disadvantages of collecting wet signatures.
What are the downsides of collecting wet signatures?
Although the act of signing a physical document is instantaneous, there are several disadvantages in the process of collecting wet signatures for both businesses and their clients.
Creating, sending, signing, and returning a paper document can be slow-paced. Signees may encounter delays returning agreements due to issues with delivery or courier services. Business days and holiday schedules can also interfere with the time taken to complete the process.
The cost of office supplies and machinery add up. Wet signatures require printers and scanners and a constant supply of ink, toner, and paper.
Delays in receiving signed contacts can also be harmful to businesses. Waiting on the return of paper-based agreements can result in the loss of other potential revenue.
Furthermore, delays in closing business agreements can give clients extra time to scope out other offers – at your expense.
There are incontrollable barriers that can cause inconvenience in collecting wet signatures. Will the signee have access to a printer? Will they have issues returning the sent document? For businesses, recording and storing paper-based signatures is also inconvenient. Returned agreements need to be scanned, filed, and stored. The accumulation of physical documents requires space and a filing system - especially for the future retrieval of signed documents.
- Environmental impact
Many companies are pledging to become environmentally aware and reduce paper consumption -an impossible reality when relying on the collection of wet signatures. The production of paper requires large quantities of water and also contributes to deforestation.
The transportation of documents and people also takes its toll on the environment. Wet signature documents rely on postal services or courier services to be sent and returned. There is also the question of transporting people to and from locations to sign physical documents.
When can an electronic signature replace a wet signature?
Electronic signatures allow for digital documents to be signed legally - without the need for a paper-based, handwritten signature. They are endorsements in digital form and are replacing wet signatures in a wide range of circumstances.
In the same way as wet signatures, electronic signatures: verify the identity of a person, constitute proof of consent, contractual status, and are an endorsement of the information contained in a document.
Some common examples of electronic signatures include:
- Typing your name into an electronic document, such as an email
- Uploading a scanned paper signature
- Drawing your signature on a screen
- Clicking a button on a website to confirm an order
Several laws have been created worldwide in recent years that legitimise the use of electronic signatures, granting them the same legal effect and weight as wet signatures.
In the European Union, the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation (eIDAS) establishes the legality of electronic signatures. It has been in force since 2016 and states:
“A qualified electronic signature shall have the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature” (eIDAS Article 25).
The eIDAS Regulation is applicable in all member states and recognises three types of electronic signatures. They are Simple electronic signatures, Advanced electronic signatures, and Qualified electronic signatures.
To regulate the types of electronic signatures and electronic signing procedures, the European Union requires trust service providers.
As a qualified trust service provider, Signaturit provides clients with expert advice and a secured electronic signature software best matched to your needs.
Electronic signatures can replace wet signatures in the majority of cases. Nevertheless, wet signatures are requested on occasions to make documents legally binding. Examples of such possibilities include court orders, divorce proceedings, adoptions contracts or wills.
What are the advantages of using electronic signatures over wet signatures?
As we previously outlined, relying on the collection of wet signatures can result in several disadvantages. On the other hand, there are multiple benefits in adopting the use of electronic signatures, which include:
Document turnaround time is much faster with electronic signatures. They are sent, signed, and returned in a matter of a few clicks. Waiting for paper agreements in the post becomes a thing of the past. Electronic signatures also significantly reduce the time spent engaged in administrative tasks when collecting wet signatures.
When electronic signatures replace wet signatures, it reduces administrative expenses.
The process results in less consumption of paper and ink and fewer costs in maintaining and repairing printers. Furthermore, less money is spent on the material to file and keep documentation in an orderly manner.
Electronic signatures cut out the mundane administrative tasks involved in collecting wet signatures. Creating, sending, tracking, and archiving documents are simplified. Further to this, the stages of contract management are also simplified and automated.
Employees also benefit from reduced time spent on printing, scanning, and sending paper documents– allowing for more time for value-added tasks in the workplace.
In comparison to wet signatures, electronic signatures provide better legal coverage on contracts. Electronic evidence allows for complete traceability of the signing process, permits the identification of the signee, and guarantees the integrity of the document.
- Environmentally friendly
Electronic signatures allow for signature processes to become paper-free. In one year, clients using the electronic signature solution offered by Signaturit eliminated paper-based administration, saving 43 million pages of paper and 2,000 trees.
The continuous digitisation of our world is a reality, and technology is broadening our vision of how we sign legally binding documents. Replacing wet signatures with electronic signatures provides a faster, easier, securer, and more cost-effective way of signing.
Businesses have faced challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the phenomena of remote working. New changes in business models need to be safe and uncomplicated, now more than ever.
As a trusted service provider, Signaturit facilitates the transition from traditional pen-on-paper signed documents to electronic signatures. Our services guarantee the security of electronic signatures, ensuring that they are easy to use for both businesses and their clients.
For more information on our electronic signature solutions and their benefits, please download the following whitepaper.
If you want to experiment with electronic signatures after reading this article, we invite you to try out Signaturit's electronic signature for 7 days for free, simply register on this page: FREE TRIAL.