E-signature or digital signature, what is the difference?

eSignatures and Digital Signatures have enabled many companies to transform their business processes by removing paper and physical mail and speeding up their approvals processes.

Author: Tim Randall | Last Updated: 30/09/2021
E-signature or digital signature, what is the difference?

However, eSignatures and Digital Signatures give slightly different levels of guarantee within the signature and document. So, what are the differences?

eSignature

Most eSignature systems will:

  • Store the IP address where the document was signed
  • Record the latitude and longitude of the signee (although this may not be completely accurate as it could be where their internet provider routes them)
  • Allow the signer to provide a signature which can be an image, text or a mouse-drawing of their signature

These details are then encrypted with a hash code that can be invalidated which shows whether the sealed document has since been tampered with.

The second level of security is the hash encryption of the whole document. Checking this hash against the document is another way to check its validity.

The main advantage when using eSignatures is that the signee can view and sign the document without having to log into any system. However, for some types of documents, for example in highly regulated industries, this is not seen as sufficient.

Digital Signatures

A digital signature is one where the signer has to log in to a system before they can sign a document. This is seen as an additional level of proof that the signee is who they claim to be.  The hash encryption used for eSignatures is apparent here as well.

Which One is Best for You?

Requiring a potential customer to create a login to a digital signature system can create friction in the sales process, and since eSignatures have just as much legal validity as traditional signatures in many countries, they are usually sufficient

If your industry regulation mandates it, or the transaction value is very high, you may decide that the extra friction and inconvenience to the signee is worth it.

Tim Randall

Tim Randall

CEO

With an extensive background in business analysis and software programming, Tim heads up our software development team and loves nothing more than solving complex business challenges with simple easy to use software.

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