Signature capturing technology and usage has received a huge boost from California Governor Jerry Brown this past month, when he signed into law the updated ESignature Expansion Act.
The new legislation is meant to clear up any remaining misunderstanding about or prejudice against the legality of esignatures in business, financial, and government affairs.
Since the 1990’s electronic signature technology has allowed the use of off-site signatures that were both secure and convenient. But many organizations, including government and financial institutions, have been slow to accept this method of certifying and authorizing documents.
But experts now say that since California has fully endorsed the use of esignatures it will become standard practice across the country.
Eli Whittaker, a manager in the Rhode Island Office of the Comptroller, says: “California has a state budget that is larger than the budget of many Third World countries; so we are watching this new esignature strategy with great interest. If it works well then our state, which is very fiscally conservative, will probably follow suit — because the savings in time and money can be enormous.”
Attribution and security remain the top priorities for digital signature technology, which has been hard put at times to keep ahead of the cyber criminal syndicates that are dedicated to stealing personal information to sell on the cyber black market. But recent technological strides by the CIA and Homeland Security now seem certain to have put the kibosh on even the most sophisticated hacker group to compromise the security of esignatures and documents. This assurance was a definite impetus to the new legislation in California.
Under the new law, notaries can accept and transmit esignatures and digital ID’s with no hesitation, and county recorders can now issue certified copies of records on the basis of a esignature, whereas in the past a person needed to be physically present to sign for the release of most county records such as deeds and tax receipts. Life insurance contracts can now also be issued with nothing more than a esignature, making their sale and maintenance much more convenient for both client and company.
According to the Electronic Signature and Records Association (ESRA), the amount of financial transactions alone that will be impacted by the new legislation is well over $77 million. Add to this the enormous amount of legal and financial work done in places like Silicon Valley, and the loosening up of esignature restrictions will mean a breathtaking leap in the California economy.
Says Jeremy Yeu, a marketing director at the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce: “Millennials have been wondering for years why they couldn’t sign loan applications or sign for passport renewals on their mobile devices. Now, in California at least, they can do all that and more from their tablet or smartphone.”
The final determining factor in opening the floodgates wide for esignatures has been the advances in chip technology for credit and debit cards. This innovation has stymied cyber criminals in their attempts to break in and steal personal and financial information. The same chip technology is being applied to digital and electronic signatures on sensitive documents and financial statements. According to the California Treasurer’s Office, taxpayers will be able to sign off and pay their state taxes online and on mobile devices starting in 2017 if they are using a chip-enabled form of payment.