What’s the difference between electronic signatures and digital signatures?

When you sign a document online, are you providing a digital signature? Or an electronic one? Indeed, is there a difference? Yes, there is. But it’s not always obvious to the average signer and many people get the two terms confused. Here, we take a look at the nuances of electronic and digital signatures so you know what to look for if you’re considering a move to a paperless, digital platform.

Very broadly, electronic signatures are a category of methods for signing a document. DocuSign eSignature is a classic example here. Fast to set up and extremely simple for signers to use, eSignatures are found in everything from business contracts to offers of employment, from invoices to purchase orders.

A digital signature is a specific type of electronic signature that uses a specific technical implementation to meet the needs of highly regulated industries. DocuSign, for example, has range of digital signature solutions where Digital certificates can be issued to signers in real time. These solutions can be our own eIDAS-compliant digital certificates or standard based signatures, or can link to local 3rd party certificate authorities to meet local regulatory needs. Digital Signatures are often used in situations with regulatory requirements like collecting evidence for court cases, clinical research in healthcare, or documents requiring professional engineering seals, and more.

Which one is right for you?

If you’re dealing with straightforward business agreements then it’s likely that you’ll only need DocuSign eSignature. A standard eSignature optimises both the customer experience and your time to market – it’s a fast, straightforward way to get people to sign on the dotted line.

If the documents that need to be signed are more sensitive or you need to comply with stringent regulations, then a digital signature solution is more likely to suit your needs. It does add another step or two to the process (depending on how you are identifying the signer), but provides that extra assurance you need.

Remember, both are safe and secure

It’s important to note that even though eSignatures use fewer verification processes than digital signatures, they are still incredibly secure. DocuSign eSignature, for example, uses rigorous data encryption, two factor authentication, time stamps and more – and meets the requirements of electronic signatures under section 10 of the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth).

If you’re not sure which signature solution is right for you, get in touch with DocuSign. We help businesses at every end of the signing spectrum with electronic and digital signature solutions suited to their specific needs – and can help you strike the perfect balance between a seamless signing experience and the legalities of your industry.

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