How to Choose e-Signature isn’t just fluffy blog content – getting this wrong could leave you with un-enforceable electronic signatures that get thrown out of court.
The entire point of e-sign is to get legally binding agreement quickly. Be sure to see our Top 10 Reasons why to use e-signature, which is about much more than just paper and pen and being green, though that’s great too – it’s really about marketing and sales and profit.
Most business owners are busy and just want to make a good decision and then get setup quickly and move on, so let’s dig in – and show you how to choose e-signature, which is really what to consider when shopping for a solution.
How to Choose e-Signature:
Is there a neutral, legally disinterested 3rd party who an prove this electronic signature document was not changed? If you self-host electronic signature, could you prove, in court, that document was not changed? If you cannot prove in court the immutability of the document, enforcement could be called into question, and for that reason, self-hosted DIY solutions may be penny wise but pound foolish. In the course of testing and programming, we have ripped into self-signed PDFs on multiple occasions, and if any of those were presented in court, we could have them thrown out due to the holder not being able to guarantee they were not modified after signature was rendered. A 3rd party in the middle (like us!) that has a copy, and is willing to go to court if needed, with a complete chain of custody and changelog with supporting bios-level data can help you get the evidence required to support legal enforcement if needed.
- Can you prove both Identity & Intent? An electronic signature is, like a traditional ink signature, a claim to both being a specified person and agreement to terms specified within the electronic signature document. Identity can be backed up with hidden-data audit trails, IP geolocation, browser “fingerprinting”, cell-phone geolocation, webcamphotos, ID upload, 2-factor authentication, social sign-in, and even more, and so electronic signature is actually stronger and more difficult to forge than old-school 1980’s era ink signatures. SwiftCloud has variable levels of authentication, password options, webcam and photo upload, government ID upload options – and all of it can be as simple and easy as you choose, or as robust as you like. What you need will vary by use case – a simple waiver in most case is signed in seconds, with no account required.
- Did the user consent to legally-required electronic signature disclosure & consent forms? It’s a small thing – but legally required. Not all self-hosted systems may have this. Some self-hosted web-form plugin type systems or self designed systems do not have consent handled, and thus the e-signature could be dismissed in court. Note laws vary by jurisdiction, and some locations have additional laws – i.e. California has laws in addition to U.S. federal law, and then certain industries (i.e. medical HIPAA law) may apply as well.
- Do all signer(s) have access to the signed electronic signature doc? This is legally required for an enforceable contract. When you dig into how to choose e-signature solutions, this isn’t just a feature that’s nice to have, it may be legally required for you (it is in the U.S. & EU).
- Can you automate data flow? One of the biggest reasons to use electronic signature is to automate marketing, stop having to type in paper forms or losing that data to time. It’s also to save time, to strike while the iron is hot, to lose fewer sales contracts to paper jams and printers out of ink. It’s to wow your customers, so before they show up for their appointment, all the paperwork is already handled, so you get them loving you that much faster.
- Do the formats work for you? SwiftCloud offers both responsive in-line-fields signature best suited to 90% of waivers and sales contracts as well as e-Sign PDFs. These will format nicely to phones – but won’t work when the output must match a precise format, such as a government 1099 or W4 in the United States, or various government forms worldwide, or industry-specific forms like a mortgage application in which the output doc is sent to other parties and must be precisely formatted. For that reason we have electronic signature PDFs. This system can even be used to sign off on visual media like Blueprints, logos, advertising billboard designs, photos of that billboard installed, etc. Most providers allow e-sign PDFs, but these aren’t responsive and won’t usually look good on a phone, which is over 50% of all web traffic these days. How to choose e-signature considerations should include this as a requirement.
- Is there smart logic / branching logic? Initially, version 1.0 systems just tried to replicate paper, but why stop there, when so much more is possible? SwiftCloud offers powerful if-then branching logic – for example, ask if someone is renting or they own their home, and if they own, ask about mortgage payments and the value of their home (and they’ll never see the rent history questions), and if they answer renting, they’ll never see the mortgage & home value questions. This can be used to save your clients a lot of time but more importantly, save you hundreds or thousands of hours fixing applications filled out incorrectly while your customers feel the process was smoother. Gone are the days of tax-form style “if you checked yes, go to line 30” – instead, just easily set up interactive forms that adjust to customer answers on the fly.
How to choose e-signature: It’s more than just a clipboard – find one that works with your other systems and software, or provides the complete system you need.
BONUS: Will it connect? How to choose e-signature providers should also include a careful consideration of what happens to your data once your doc(s) are signed. SwiftCloud offers APIs, email and can push data into other systems a variety of ways to help you market and stay in touch, automate data flows and more. To learn more about our data export, APIs, and other methods to connect downstream systems, contact our team, or take a test drive and rest assured in most cases we have a solution.
We believe SwiftCloud is for most clients, the best electronic signature system on the market.
When you’re considering how to choose e-signature solutions, we hope this helps and stand behind our work. The next step is to get started now for $1 and you can be setup in minutes in most cases.
If you have a complex suite of forms – great! Contact us for setup options – we have some great use cases of clients who have 50+ pages of HR docs for incoming clients as just one example – we can handle very complex situations and the more complex it is, the more time, effort, and money we’ll save you.
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Yes! Electronic Signatures are 100% legally binding in nearly every jurisdiction around the globe, including the U.S. and E.U.
Furthermore, electronic signatures are actually MORE difficult to forge than a traditional ink signature, because of the digital “fingerprinting” left at time of signature.
For all paying accounts, expert witnesses are available for court appearance or deposition in the highly unlikely event enforcement assistance is needed.
Each e-Signature done on the Swift Signature platform also carries an audit trail, and optional SwiftCloud-account security requirements.
For some exciting reading, we encourage you to review specific laws for your area, such as…United States: ESIGN Act of 2000, UETA (Uniform Electronic Transactions) Act European Union: Electronic Signatures Directive of 1999 & 1993 Various other countries
UPDATED: Country-specifics list started:Brazil
Practically speaking, enforcement for most civil contracts requires a subscriber’s willingness to sue and take the matter to court. For our part, we are frankly looking forward to making a few examples of anyone attacking the status and legal authenticity of the signatures, and have a lot to gain (both publicity as well as direct financial damages) by proving this matter.
To aid in enforcement, we have available both expert witnesses and attorneys, and in addition ......More...