eIDAS and electronic signatures – A positive way forward for European organizations
Electronic signatures have gained popularity over the years due to the level of convenience and security around this solution. With the introduction of the eIDAS regulation in July 2016, there has been a significant increase in their application and acceptance.
Since 1st July 2016, this regulation ensures the provision of trust services in all EU Member States and in the European Economic Area (EEA). This was a step towards establishing trust in the online environment as a prerequisite to achieving economic and
According to its article 1, the main objective of this EU-wide regulation is to ensure proper running of the internal market and an adequate level of security for electronic identification media and trust services. For this purpose, it states the following:
- Define the conditions under which Member States recognise electronic identification means of natural and legal persons falling under a notified electronic identification scheme of another Member State;
- Rules for trust services, in particular for electronic transactions; and
- Establishes a legal framework for electronic signatures, electronic seals, electronic time stamps, electronic documents, electronic registered delivery services and certificate services for website authentication
An important element of eIDAS is the electronic signature, which is defined as an electronic indication of a person’s intent to agree to the content of a document to which the signature relates. Like its handwritten counterpart in the offline world, an electronic
signature is a legal concept capturing the intent to be bound by the terms of the signed document.
The shift from offline transactions to online demanded that electronic signatures were in place and regulated, guaranteeing the validity of virtual transactions. There are three types of electronic signatures:
Simple electronic signature (SES): A term used to refer to a first basic level of signature, which would be something as simple as writing your name under an e-mail.
Advanced electronic signature (AES): It is essentially the same as SES but also meets a few regulatory requirements, such as:
- It is uniquely linked to the signatory
- It can identify the signatory
- It is created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control
- It is linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable
Qualified electronic signature (QES): Essentially the same as AES, brings a higher level of security and compliance, as:
- Creates a qualified electronic signature
- It is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures
- Has legal effects equivalent to the ones of handwritten signatures, which enables it to be used in any situation, even cross-border, where handwritten signatures are used
Industries that can easily adopt it:
The revolutionary nature of the eIDAS regulation has impacted many industries and sectors. With the help of QES, professional relationships can be started immediately. The level of security and convenience offered benefits both the parties involved in the
process of signing a contract/document. Since contract conclusion takes place across all sectors and industries, it is hard to point out which ones benefit from this the most. However, it has gained major popularity particularly in the finance, insurance,
telecommunications, automotive and eCommerce sectors.
Use Case for QES:
Let’s take the example of a car rental company that wants to offer its customers the possibility to sign their leasing contracts online in a convenient, secure and legal manner. As we know, leasing contracts usually requires a hand-written signature. Since
a QES holds the same legal validity as a hand-written one, it can be used instead. To ensure compliance with the Money Laundering Act (MLA), interested parties undergo an identification process through a video chat and in the end, they sign the contract electronically.
The entire procedure only takes a few minutes. Following this, the leasing contract is immediately valid.
The future is online, eIDAs regulation tends to keep evolving to regulate and control the demand of this new way of doing businesses.
Integrated eSign Products
One of the solutions many companies offer is integrated eSign product. With this, you can sign contracts with your customers online without any media disruption or additional hardware. Instead of requiring a handwritten signature, a qualified electronic
signature (QES) is created that has the same validity from a legal perspective. All the customer needs is internet access, a computer with a webcam, a smartphone or tablet and their valid ID document.
This not only offers a great user experience for the customers, but also results in exceptional conversion rates for businesses. eSign products need to meet the requirements of the EU Regulation 910/2014 for electronic signatures. Accordingly, the QES therefore
is valid in all Member States of the EU.