Thursday, 13 August 2020

How digital signature and blockchain technology can help businesses

Digital signatures allow companies and customers to sign documents electronically from anywhere using a computer or mobile device

In the future, blockchain tech will make these digital documents smarter - something resembling an automated computer programme.

In recent years, governments and businesses across the globe have rapidly adopted digital strategies to improve productivity, customer experiences, and security.

At the core of this digital transformation are a paperless office, cashless transactions, and end-to-end automation in all possible scenarios. These methods go a long way towards achieving effective customer relationship management and operational excellence.

Agreements with customers, employees, business partners, governments, and regulatory authorities form the basis of business. They are omnipresent in every organization, whether sales agreements, non-disclosure agreements, offer letters, purchase orders, or memorandums of understanding.

Each agreement has the potential to build a better relationship with stakeholders, so making sure the process around creating and finalizing these agreements is as streamlined as possible should be a high priority for any organization. Adopting a digital strategy in this area is necessary to thrive in today's highly competitive business landscape.

Say goodbye to paper and pen

The traditional method of physically signing a business document involves a substantial amount of time and effort.

Let's take the classic example of signing a sales agreement with paper and pen. First, we need to create and collaborate on the agreement offline.

Next, after a series of reviews, the company and customer should print, sign, and scan the document copy physically, which usually takes a day or two depending on the logistics. Finally, we also need to protect this agreement for audit purposes. No fast-growing business can scale with such manual processes in place.

Hello, digital signatures!

Digital signatures allow companies and customers to sign documents electronically from anywhere using a computer or mobile device just by typing their name, drawing a signature, or uploading a copy of their physical signature and verifying its authenticity using cryptographic techniques.

Once a document is digitally signed, any changes made to the document can be detected and both parties notified. Signed documents can be stored on local devices or cloud collaboration software for easy management. All of these make this method fairly simple, secure, and easily verifiable.

Other advantages include:

- Improved internal process and sales productivity
- Quick document turnaround time and return on investment
- Easy compliance and reduced costs

The legality of digital signatures

Governments and regulatory authorities worldwide are encouraging businesses to adopt digital signatures for operational benefits and eco-friendliness. Digital signing is a legal and legitimate method of signing most of the business documents since the late 2000s and accepted in the court of law in the EU, US, United Arab Emirates, China, and many other countries.

However, there are still some exceptions for some particular types of documents, including wills, codicils, divorce agreements, and other documents that require notarization. In some countries, like Saudi Arabia, even though digital signatures are accepted in the court of law, businesses still do not use them for unknown reasons.

The road ahead with blockchain tech

Though there are more than a dozen advantages to digital signatures, the primary concern of users always seems to be the authenticity and integrity of digitally signed documents. By adopting blockchain-powered technology, digital signature solutions can provide an additional level of verification for signed documents that should encourage users to sign documents with confidence.

Today, leading e-signature solutions have started leveraging Ethereum, a fully autonomous, open-source platform, to add the evidence of agreement automatically into the public ledger. Anyone can access the Ethereum public blockchain at any time to confirm whether a particular document was signed at the given time and also verify whether the digitally signed document existed during that period.

In the future, blockchain tech will make these digital documents smarter - something resembling an automated computer programme. One might call these "smart contracts." For example, an insurance smart contract might trigger an automated payout when it satisfies certain criteria. Though the concept of smart contracts is still in the budding stages, it will eliminate all manual intervention and provide huge savings to businesses and customers in the future.

Choosing the right digital signature software

Obviously, there's no need to rely on a paper and pen signing method anymore—it's highly cumbersome, time-consuming, and unreliable. It's time for governments and businesses to consider using digital signature software to sign documents electronically from anywhere without compromising security. But which software works best?

When selecting a good digital signature software solution, it should satisfy all or most of the following criteria:

- Easy to set up and ideally a SaaS offering
- Fully customizable with multi-language support
- Compliant with local laws and legal validation
- Readily integrates with apps your team uses: HRMS, CRM, legal, finance, and document storage services
- Offers REST APIs and SDKs to integrate with legacy apps
- Is experimenting with blockchain technology

Zoho Sign offers all these features and much more in an affordable pricing for businesses and government agencies of all sizes and types. There is even a free plan that lets you sign five documents per month at no cost. Start your digital signature journey and sign your next business document with Zoho Sign.

Legal disclaimer: The insight, recommendations and analysis presented here are based on corporate filings, current events, interviews, corporate press releases, and what we've learned as financial journalists. They are presented for the purposes of general information only, and all the information belongs to the original publishers. These may contain errors and we make no promises as to the accuracy or usefulness of the information we present. You should not make any investment decision based solely on what you read here.

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