QUESTIONS ABOUT E-SIGNLIVE PROFESSIONAL EDITION (SaaS)

GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT E-SIGNATURES
 
LEGAL QUESTIONS
 

Silanis e-SignLive is a web-based e-signature service. You use a web browser to send and sign documents. It’s that simple. Here’s how it works:

  • Upload your documents
  • Confirm who signs each document
  • Define where they sign by simply dragging a signature block to the correct location(s) in the document
  • Select the authentication method (user name/password, secret question/answer, SMS code, third-party authentication services)
  • Click “SEND”
  • An email will be sent to each signer, inviting them to e-sign the documents (note that if you are face-to-face with the signer, you have the option of using your own computer or mobile device to capture their signature)
  • Each signer is guided step-by-step through the signing process (yellow tabs indicate where to sign)
  • Once the documents are signed, they can be downloaded
  • The e-signed documents can be stored in e-SignLive or downloaded for retention in your own system of record and deleted from e-SignLive
  • Note that the e-signed documents are standard PDF files that can be viewed in Adobe Reader (and other PDF readers)
Do I need Adobe Reader?

Adobe Reader is not required to prepare or sign documents. It is only necessary to open and view e-signed documents (to see all the e-signatures). When viewing a document using Adobe Reader, you can verify that a document and its signatures have not been tampered with. Other PDF viewers will not necessarily display the signature seal. You will need Acrobat Reader version 5 and up.

Which browsers does e-SignLive support?

  • Internet Explorer (versions 8, 9, 10)
  • Safari (for iOS)
  • Firefox
  • Google Chrome

Where can I find pricing information?

https://www.silanis.com/products/edition-and-pricing

What is an electronic signature?

Like its paper equivalent, an electronic signature is a legal concept. Its purpose is to capture the intent of the signer to be bound by the terms and conditions in a contract. E-Signature software is designed to facilitate signature capture online, while also creating a process that results in a legally enforceable agreement.

Why should I use electronic signatures?

The traditional paper contract is changing.  Today, closing business quickly is all about getting the signature – without using paper. This requires an electronic signature. Beyond the immediate benefits of getting documents signed faster, electronic signatures help:

Save money
  • Eliminate expenses like printer toner, courier fees, filing cabinets, archiving real estate, etc.
Prevent customer abandonment
  • Because electronic signatures are so immediate, there is no opportunity for the customer to shop around.
Transform customer experience
  • People love e-signatures because they’re convenient. By signing online, customers don’t have to take time away from work or family, and they don’t have to spend time and gas driving to a retail branch – they can e-sign from anywhere.
Improve compliance/ auditability
  • Through e-signatures, electronic transactions can be controlled by workflow rules to ensure that each transaction is executed correctly, the first time. e-SignLive ensures mandatory fields are populated and the signature blocks are completed. So if your customer forgets a signature, they won’t be able to submit the documents for processing.
Reduce risk of repudiation
  • e-SignLive captures a record of everything that transpires during the online signing process. This electronic evidence reduces risk related to disputes over “I wasn’t shown that disclosure,” or “I didn’t opt out of that coverage.”
Provide visibility into transactions
  • Depending on the implementation, you may be given access to a dashboard that gives you real-time insight into which transactions have been completed by the customer, which haven’t, which are about to expire, etc.
Eliminate inefficiencies
  • No more time wasted chasing faxes, printing paper, re-sending documents, re-keying data or storing paper documents.
  • No more follow-up phone calls asking customers to sign and send in their paperwork.
  • No more return visits to customers to correct document errors like missing signatures or data.
Enhance your reputation and success
  • E-Signatures make for a better customer experience. Being “easier to do business with” results in long-term customer loyalty, more repeat business and more word-of-mouth advertising.

What is the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature?

The term “e-signature” is often confused with “digital signature”. An e-signature is a legal concept, resulting in an enforceable online process. Digital signature refers to the encryption technology used in a number of security, e-business and e-commerce applications, including e-signatures. In short, we take the best of both technologies and provide you an ELECTRONIC signature application that is built on DIGITAL signature security.

Are electronic signatures secure?

Yes. Security is always top-of-mind when organizations begin signing online with customers, agents, partners and suppliers. To mitigate risk, e-SignLive provides three levels of security:

  1. User authentication: User authentication is the process of identifying an individual and ensuring that the person is who he or she claims to be. e-SignLive offers multiple ways to verify the signer’s identity, including traditional login/password, secret question/answer, SMS passcode, third-party authentication services (e.g., Equifax), and more.
  2. Document authentication: Document authentication is the process of verifying the information contained in a signed document to ensure that it hasn’t changed since it was signed. Once a document is signed electronically with e-SignLive software, it cannot be altered in any way without visible detection. Any attempt to alter or delete the content or signatures will automatically render the document and electronic signatures invalid. e-SignLive achieves this by producing a tamper-proof seal between the signatures and the document. In addition, it is not possible to copy and paste a signature since e-SignLive secures the signature blocks with digital signature encryption as well. Even with all this security, we make it easy for you to verify the authenticity of the document and signatures – in just one click.
  3. Process evidence: This is comprehensive evidence of how a user completed a transaction on the web or through a mobile device. Silanis’ electronic signature software captures and stores the web pages that were viewed and signed by each user, their order, time and date of presentation – as well as any email notifications, SMS codes sent, voice capture and other data related to the transaction. This makes it possible to prove the process a signer went through, effectively protecting all parties in the transaction.

What are the top security features to look for in an e-signature solution?

  • User authentication
  • Data authentication
  • Process control
  • Process evidence

User authentication is the process of identifying an individual and ensuring that the person is who he or she claims to be. Data authentication, on the other hand, is the process of verifying the information contained in a signed document to ensure that it hasn’t changed since it was signed. Electronic transactions can be controlled by workflow rules to reduce the risk of non-compliance and errors. The importance of process evidence is to prove exactly what took place at every stage of the document review and signing process.

To learn more, read the Security white paper

What is the best way to identify and authenticate customers over the web?

Consider how customer identity is verified in other remote channels, such as call centers and by mail. These processes identify applicants using out-of-wallet information, sometimes verified against third-party verification services.

Once a user’s identity is established, it makes sense to issue electronic credentials for future transactions. Because most Web-based consumer-facing processes are one-time or infrequent, it is not practical or cost-effective to issue digital certificates or hardware-based authentication devices to end users. A better option is to use password or leverage electronic credentials that have already been issued for other processes.

What is the difference between user identification, authentication and attribution?

Identification takes place the first time you conduct a transaction with an online user. Common approaches to user identification are self-identification (user enters personal information about themselves) and third-party identification (when that information is verified against a third party verification service such as Equifax).

User authentication is the process of verifying credentials entered by a user. The most common approach and widely accepted standard for user authentication in online transactions is user name and password. Digital certificates, tokens or biometrics are other options for very high risk processes.

Attribution is the process of associating a signature to an individual. This is a unique challenge in a face-to-face environment when the method of signing is click-to-sign. Attributing the signature is important to be able to demonstrate who was ‘holding the mouse”. The best approaches for establishing attribution are voice signature, SMS password and affidavits.

What does an electronic signature look like?

That depends on what type of e-signature you use. If the customer is e-signing remotely using a web browser, their signature will appear in a standard font, backed by a watermark that contains information like the date and time they e-signed.  Alternatively, if the customer is face-to-face scenario with a sales representative, the customer could e-sign on the rep’s iPad using a stylus or fingertip. In this case, their hand-scripted signature would appear on the documents, again with a watermark.

Do my customers need any special software/hardware to e-sign?

No. Customers don’t need anything more than a web browser. When asking customers to e-sign over the Internet, the best solution is to e-sign documents through a web browser – without requiring the customer to download any new software. This eliminates the risk that the customer might abandon the process because of frustration and delays caused by software incompatibilities.

Nor do customers need to create an account to e-sign. They will simply receive an email with a link to a secure site, enter their user name and password, and gain access to the e-sign process through the browser that is on their desktop PC, laptop or mobile device.

Which mobile devices can my customers use to e-sign?

Silanis offers you true “anywhere, anytime” e-signing from any web-enabled device, including a smartphone, tablet (e.g., iPad) and laptop. Silanis e-signatures are compatible with Apple®, Android® and Windows® devices.

Are electronic signatures legal?

Yes, in the U.S. as well as in many other countries worldwide. Today, more than 10 years after the passing of the U.S. ESIGN Act, there is no longer any question about whether electronic signatures are legal. Recent legal disputes indicate that e-signatures can actually provide a stronger legal defense than is possible with paper.

In the U.S., federal and state law gives electronic signatures the same legal status as handwritten signatures. Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA). Additionally, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), a federal law, provides that electronic signatures are legally enforceable for intrastate commerce and within those states that have not adopted UETA.

Do legal requirements differ from state to state?

Yes and no. The federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce law and the state Uniform Electronic Transactions Acts (UETA) are similar in substance, and together enable the use of electronic signatures in commerce throughout the US. That said there may be additional regulations, or compliance requirements that apply to certain processes (like truth-in-lending disclosures, or protecting the privacy of medical records). But these requirements exist for paper processes as much as for electronic ones.

Have e-signed documents been challenged in court?

Yes, there is a growing body of case law that is establishing precedence for electronic records and signatures. Examples include: Lorraine v. Markel, Vinhnee V. American Express, Campbell v. General Dynamics Government System Corp., 2005 NY Slip Op25526, Shattuck v. Klotzback, Hotmail Corporation v. Van$ Money Pie Inc.

While in some cases, electronic records were accepted as evidence and the transaction under question upheld, in other cases the court did not admit, or at least criticized, the electronic records as evidence.

What are some of the key take-aways from recent court rulings?

In a landmark ruling on the admissibility of electronically stored information (ESI), US Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm discussed examples of the essential elements of an effective e-contracting process, notably “creating and securely archiving and retrieving an audit trail of the entire ESI management process, from the steps to verify the identity of the persons signing the record all the way through to sealing electronically the document and then securely archiving and retrieving the e-contract.”Moreover, Judge Grimm noted, “These same steps enhance the overall persuasiveness of the hard copy of the e-contract as well.”

How can we ensure our electronic records will be enforced in the event of a dispute?

The key to ensuring an enforceable e-signed record and staying out of court in the first place, is to capture and reproduce as much electronic evidence as possible. Creating persuasive electronic evidence can be accomplished by recording and reproducing the exact process used to build the person’s understanding of what they were agreeing to and signing. This includes the exact appearance and order of all of the web screens, documents and legal disclosure that were presented to people; how long they spent on each page; and all actions that they took during the review and signing process, such as clicking on buttons to accept, sign, initial and confirm.

What is the ESIGN Act?

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (e-SIGN) is a U.S. Federal law that was passed in 2000 that enabled the use of electronic records and signatures for commercial transactions. The act essentially enables organizations to adopt a uniform e-signature process across all 50 states with the assurance that records cannot be refused by a court of law solely on the basis that they were signed electronically.

Because the act is technology-neutral and doesn’t favor any one type of solution over another, the onus is on the organization to determine how it plans to meet the e-SIGN Act’s requirements for capturing signing intent and authenticating data and signers.

Are there any special requirements for presenting legal disclosures over the web?

As with paper transactions, an organization must still prove that it presented consumers with the government-mandated disclosures in the required format and within the required timeframe. In addition, the merchant must be capable of demonstrating that the consumer has consented to receiving disclosures electronically, and that he/she can access the information in the electronic format provided.

Delivering disclosures via your Web site requires more than simply posting disclosures on a Web page. Evidence of the entire disclosure delivery process, including how the disclosure was rendered to the consumer’s browser, and which actions the consumer took, must be securely stored in a single audit trail.

To learn more, read the E-disclosures white paper 

What is better from a legal standpoint, an electronic signature or a digital signature?

Although they sound similar, e-signatures and digital signatures are completely different things, and should not be compared. An e-signature is a legal concept. It is the electronic equivalent of a wet ink signature on paper, and must therefore have certain characteristics for evidentiary purposes.

As defined by the US federal ESIGN law, an electronic signature is “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to, or associated with, a contract or other record and used as the legal equivalent of a written signature.” A digital signature, on the other hand, is an encryption technology used to secure data. It can and should be used as part of an e-signature for security, but alone, does not meet the legal requirements.

Does the law require a minimum level of user authentication?

In a word, no. The federal ESIGN law does not specify the type of user authentication to be used with e-signatures. The definition of an e-signature under ESIGN refers to user authentication in the phrase “a contract or other record . . . adopted by a person”; however, it does not specify how the signer should “adopt” the contract or record.

Ideally, the choice of a user authentication method should depend on the risk profile of the organization and the process it is automating. Smart cards with digital certificates may make sense when signing highly sensitive military requisitions, but are clearly not feasible, or even necessary, for consumers applying for a loan online.