What is a digital signature?
A digital signature is a specific type of e-signature that complies with strict legal regulations, securely associating a signer with a document and providing a level of assurance of a signer’s identity.
Electronic signatures are broadly accepted throughout the industrialised world as equivalent to a written "wet” signature with eIDAS in Europe, Electronic Transaction Acts in Australia or ESIGN act in the United States.
Are they all the same?
That would be too easy! There are 3 categories of digital signatures in Europe and these terms are often used also around the World: Simple electronic Signature (SES), Advanced electronic signatures (AES) and Qualified electronic signature (QES).
Many e-signatures you will have received by email will be categorised as Simple electronic signature (SES) where only the signer's email address is required without any verification of the ID of the signer. This is the most basic form and therefore only to be used for day-to-day sales or forms agreements.
Qwil sign is the next level up as an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) as we meet the following four main criteria (eIDAS regulations):
It must be uniquely linked to the signer
Each signer has a unique ID in Qwil
It is capable of identifying the signer:
Each signer is verified in Qwil as invitation only platform by each organisation using 2FA
The signature creation data used is under the sole control of the signer:
Only the signer can sign and with a secure access to the signed document in Qwil.
The signature must be linked to the data signed in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable:
A full audit trail is provided with a digital certificate on every complete document with unique ID stamped on each page.
Advanced electronic signatures (AES) are appropriate for high value transactions and documents where you want to be sure that the right person has signed!
Qualified electronic signatures (QES) go one step further by face-to-face ID verification by Trust Service Providers ahead of the signing and used for highly regulated transactions.
What about copying and pasting a signature image file on a document?
It is so easy to paste a signature to a document but that is not a legal digital signature and even it looks the same as wet ink, it will not be valid for the following reasons:
- Not legally enforceable
- Everyone (and anyone) can paste a signature
- No audit trail for the courts to rely on
- You can’t ensure it is the right person signing
- Not tamper proof when sending by email.
The method of signing is therefore key including the ability to identify the person which is why we favour Advanced signatures at Qwil Messenger.
Do signatures need to look “real”?
No. Which cursive font you “adopt” or whether you type it in Arial, draw a few Squiggly lines on the screen or even upload your Wet Ink signature image is all the same for e-signatures.
They all have the same legality as it is the digital identification of the signer, the tamper proof process and the certification which are key.
At this stage Qwil only provides one cursive font to make it simple but will offer the option to sign on the screen (or upload the signature) in the next release of Qwil Sign.
Where do I find more about the legal framework?
The use of digital signatures is regulated in legal texts, such as the European eIDAS regulation of 2014 and the United Kingdom’s Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions Regulations of 2016.
What about United States and the ESIGN Act?
The ESIGN Act granted electronic signatures the same legal status as handwritten signatures throughout the United States.
The ESIGN Act:
- Provides that any law with a requirement for a signature may be satisfied by an electronic signature
- Allows electronically executed agreements to be presented as evidence in court
- Prevents denial of legal effect, validity, or enforceability of an electronically signed document solely because it is in electronic form
For an electronic signature to be legally binding under the ESIGN Act, it is recommended that all electronic signature workflows include the following elements.
- Intent to sign. Qwil Sign documents are sent to the person for preview and sgin.
- Consent to do business electronically. Qwil Sign asks your approval and understanding
- Opt-out clause. Qwil Sign requests can be declined
- Signed copies. Qwil Sign completed copies are sent to all.
- Record retention. Qwil Sign includes a certificate to all requests at completion.
What about Qwil Sign and Qwil Messenger?
Thought you would never ask! :)
All client communications can now happen on Qwil whether it is chat, sharing a document or a video meeting so it is only natural you can also ask for a signature at no extra cost!
Clients, partners and employees now expect this level of convenience, not having to look out for an email, or logging in to a portal or even switching between apps. We've made it easy.
Your signed agreements benefit also from Qwil Messenger's enterprise-grade security and compliance controls (including hosting) but without sacrificing the user experience.
Find out more: About Qwil Signature