Digital signatures have never been so important

Digital signatures are more necessary than ever



In these abnormal times when our familiar ways of living and working have been turned upside down by a pandemic, digital methods are more than ever the new normal.

To mention only the most striking aspect, people have switched to teleworking on a massive scale. Unfortunately, a key part of the digital puzzle is often missing: digital signatures. 


The good news is that the digital transformation of our society and our economy has already progressed to the point that people are able to work effectively from home on a large scale.

In the Belgian technology sector, home working nearly doubled during March of this year, as can be seen from a recent survey conducted by the technology association Agoria among 190 technology companies. Before the outbreak of the corona crisis, 33 per cent of employees occasionally worked from home; that figure has now risen to 62 per cent.


A question of trust

The bad news is that the digital transformation of our society and economy is still a work in progress. Some business processes are not yet digitised or not fully digitised, even though the necessary technology has been available for a long time. As a result, this crisis is hitting some sectors much harder than others.

E-signatures play an important role in a (fully) digital world – especially in sectors where legally valid signatures are a significant part of the sales process. There the purpose of a signature is to provide the necessary trust between the various parties involved in the process. Some typical examples are taking out a consumer loan, opening a bank account, or purchasing an investment or insurance product. A legally valid signature is also required to conclude an employment contract, to mention just one example, or to sign a compliance agreement.


Digital communication alone is not sufficient

The use of e-signatures has become fairly well established in some occupational groups, such as notaries and lawyers, and in specific sectors such as financial services. This is undeniable. We have even developed tailored solutions for some of these target groups.

However, other occupational groups and sectors have missed opportunities to not only maintain contact with their customers during this economically difficult time, but also continue serving their customers as usual. Unfortunately, digital communication alone is not sufficient for this. That's painfully clear from the prolonged corona crisis. When your customer has to carry out a relatively sensitive or risky transaction, a digital signature and the trust it provides are not only necessary, but also a competitive advantage.

In an ideal digital world where you and your customer can provide legally valid signatures without leaving your home or office, a number of transactions that would either be on hold or cancelled under current conditions could go ahead as usual. If we had been more far-sighted and performed the required digitalisation faster and more thoroughly, we would certainly have been able to better mitigate the economic damage currently resulting from the corona crisis. 


Paper in quarantine

We now see that some organisations are keeping their paper documents in quarantine for several days as a protective measure against the hazards of the corona virus.

Those of you who are already working with digital signatures do not have this concern, since paperless document processing is a basic condition for using digital signatures. Along with being safer, this saves you a lot of money, time and effort.



Published by

Geert Peeters 

Head of Bus.Dev & Innovation at Zetes People ID


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