Fully digital services and processes. How to do this?
Modern society is e-ready - mature enough to use electronic services. However, we fall behind the average European Union level and the countries of the region in the use of digital tools.
Where is the problem and what is the solution?
To digitalize your work, the first step is to create the right services and processes. To this end, one can use specific tools for each and every situation: websites, customer portals, resources, processes and documents, personnel, customer relations and other management systems. Although most transactions do not require a signature, there are still numerous situations where personally signed document serves as the highest standard for legal certification. Such cases exist in every organization when signing agreements with employees, partners, signing management and other documents, as well as in various service sectors - financial, logistics, public services, telecommunications, outsourcing (e.g. accounting or legal services).
Regardless of the size of the industry and organization, there is always a need for signing documents.
E-signing allows doing this completely digitally with a qualified (secure) electronic signature.
Currently, you can sign in Latvia with a secure electronic signature (e-sign) by the use of Smart-ID qualified (white) account, as well as an eID card and eParakstsMobile application. The number of e-users in Latvia is growing rapidly every year: last year the number of e-signatures increased by 30%. There are 1 million Smart-ID users in Latvia; eID cards will become mandatory for all residents starting from 2023, so there will be only a handful of people with no e-tools; most likely people will have at least one.
There already is a regulatory framework for legal force of e-signatures; there are also established digital processes and services as well as e-signing tools. Where is the problem?
Rather recently, the economically active population of the Baltic States and Finland was asked about their e-habits, i.e. authentication and e-signing online (the study is available here). Summary: main obstacles for using e-services in Latvia and counterarguments.
Hard to obtain and start using e-tools. To obtain, for example, an eID card and prepare a computer to work with an e-signature, it is necessary to invest time and money, and certain level of computer skills are also required. eID card reader, e-signing software, browser plug-in – all of these things are necessary to e-sign with an eID card.
E-tools can be obtained in several ways, including remotely. Both eParaksts Mobile (here is info on how to get it) and Smart-ID can be obtained remotely. You can get a Smart-ID account by visiting Swedbank, SEB Bank or Luminor branch; you can also use your eID card and now also biometric identification: take a photo of your document, make a selfie - and you are done! The number of users is growing rapidly, and many do not even realize that they can also e-sign with their Smart-ID account.
Difficult to use. In order to sign a document, the current user experience shows that the document needs to be saved on a computer, opened with an e-signing program, signed (by entering a PIN code), saved and forwarded - sent via e-mail or uploaded. User's opinion: in order to electronically sign a document, the user has to perform a series of clicks and steps, which takes much longer than signing on paper. Signatories and modern consumers expect a different - better - user experience online. Organization’s opinion: e-signed documents need to be managed; therefore, someone still has to take care of proper processing and archiving, which often leads to errors and information security breaches.
Modern and convenient e-signing tools are already available. Thanks to the above-mentioned tools eParaksts Mobile and Smart-ID, signing is much more convenient and simpler compared to signing with an eID card, as you no longer need a card reader and link to a pre-prepared computer. Bearing in mind user convenience, while complying with regulatory and security requirements, there are also services available with integrated e-signing, for example, when you confirm transactions or conclude agreements with the bank in certain online banking systems, you actually e-sign the process, but without many clicks; this is in no way different than confirming an online banking payment. This approach is also provided by e-signature integration solution SigningServices, which focuses on the user experience and information security.
There is a lack of services to use e-tools. Although e-signed documents should be accepted by every institution, there are still cases where this is not a common practice. Services accepting e-signed documents require user experience described in the last section, which discourages the use of e-tools.
Integrated e-signing in products and processes is becoming the norm. Users are offered more and more services and internal systems, where e-signing is already integrated ensuring compliance with regulatory enactments concerning secure electronic signature, user convenience with simplified e-signing, and information security control for the company.
By offering simplified integration services and at the same time ensuring the entire signing process from data acquisition and document generation to user authentication, content distribution, signing and archiving, the aforementioned SigningServices facilitates implementation of e-signing in both public portals and internal systems. The most common document management systems (e.g. Microsoft SharePoint, OpenText ContentSuit) also offer standard plug-ins facilitating e-signature implementation.
For example, company Intergaz recently added an e-signing option to its customer portal so that contracts with customers could be signed completely electronically, thus offering a modern and high-quality service and speeding up the flow of information and saving costs. Here is Intergaz's story of how they implemented the e-signing in their portal.
When I talk about inserted or integrated e-signature feature, I mean that the system where the user works offers “Sign” option next to the document provided by SigningServices, allowing one to e-sign following these steps:
1. the user clicks “Sign” directly next to the document to be signed in the system where he/she works (no need to download, save, sign, save, send…),
2. chooses the most convenient of the above signing tools,
3. enters personal PIN code according to the selected tool (these processes are different for eID card and Smart-ID),
4. that's all! The signed document is properly stored and available for download to the user, while the systems and users involved are notified of the result of signing.
Next is an example of how the process works in a specific company’s document management system:
Signing is convenient and simple, documents and information to be signed do not have to be processed manually or handed over to a 3rd party for coordination of signing; the user experience is pleasant and efficient.
When e-signing is based on the user experience and is embedded in the system where the user works, in a way that is freely accessible and convenient for the user, the whole process becomes an intuitive and powerful tool for growing business online, securing modern services, customer loyalty and increased efficiency.
Given the pressure from various regulators and great interest of companies in using qualified tools for user authentication and electronic signatures, I can only add that if your organization is not yet thinking about it, then this is the right moment to start looking in this direction. Please take a closer look at your customers and business partners, as well as your internal business processes - it is very likely that you will see opportunities to make them more convenient for customers and completely digital.
In case you are already considering this option, do it! Ask your suppliers or IT department to add an e-signing option to your portals and internal systems!
Contact us to learn how to easily and quickly implement smart e-signing with SigningServices!