The electronic signature, the No. 1 trust tool

The electronic signature continues to develop! Limited to banks, insurance companies and local authorities 5 years ago, it is now an essential tool for carrying out many procedures, offering in particular time savings and more than appreciable security. Where is she today? What are its uses? How is it framed? The answers.

Just like dematerialization, to which it is closely linked, the electronic signature continues to develop! In May 2020, an Archimag survey of 136 French organizations indicated that 39% of them had already succumbed to this tool, and that 43% were preparing to take the leap in the years to come. And the trend is not about to reverse. According to a Markess by Exaegis (2021) study, 64% of companies and public organizations have an electronic signature solution, and only 12% are fiercely opposed to it. By 2023, the research firm estimates that 87% of structures will be equipped, making the electronic signature the most widespread trust tool, ahead of electronic archiving in particular.

The emergence of new business sectors

Increasingly widespread, the electronic signature is nevertheless more developed in certain sectors of activity than others. In addition to banks, insurance companies and mutual insurance companies, which were the first to adopt this technology to secure their documents, the electronic signature is now increasingly well established in sectors that need to streamline their processes.

Among them, real estate is increasingly using electronic signatures, allowing a wide variety of documents to be signed on the fly. Construction players, too, now use electronic signatures, particularly in the context of signing contracts, which can mobilize dozens of trades (i.e. as many stakeholders). The health sector, too, can benefit from it, the electronic signature having the double advantage of responding to security issues (the processing of health data being highly regulated) and reduction of paper (dematerialization of the patient file ). Finally, and above all, tourism is a booming market, adapting to new consumer purchasing methods, which favor 100% web (or phygital) to book their trips.

Uses that remain classic

On the business side, the electronic signature responds mainly to 3 use cases:

  • Human resources: signature of contracts, with the possibility of automating all or part of the onboarding process;
  • Legal service: signature of contracts, engagement letters, legal acts, etc. ;
  • Commercial department: signature of commercial agreements (contracts, invoices, purchase orders, delivery notes, etc.).

The Serda – Archimag Group’s Information Governance report (2022) confirms this trend: supplier contracts are the types of documents most signed electronically, with 35.4% of the vote, followed by public contracts (34. 7%), HR documents (28.6%) and customer contracts (25.8%). More generally, the electronic signature takes on its full meaning when it is put at the service of business processes requiring the validation of several parties: in addition to being secure, exchanges become more fluid, allowing faster processing of documents.

When regulations change

Beyond the practical aspect offered by the electronic signature, it is obvious that the regulatory frameworks put in place favor its development. In addition to the policies favorable to dematerialization, the electronic signature benefits from the probative value attributed to it by the eIDAS regulation, the update of which is currently being developed. First announced for September 2022, it could finally only see the light of day at the beginning of the following year.

In particular, this overhaul will include an important component around remote identity verification and the dematerialization of the qualified electronic signature. As a reminder, the latter currently requires the use of a physical medium; with the new version of the eIDAS regulation, it would go into full SaaS mode and would therefore be accessible to all European citizens, who would be able to sign numerous documents.

Barriers to small businesses

Still, despite regulatory changes, some obstacles to the adoption of electronic signatures by organizations of all sizes have a hard tooth! Certainly, the health crisis (and the need to continue to sign contracts) has lifted one of the most important of them, that is to say the lack of interest of the leaders for this technology. Nevertheless, others are still being felt, particularly around data protection and security processes.

This is all the more true in VSEs and SMEs, which still lag significantly behind large groups. However, the trend could be reversed in the years to come, with more and more publishers of electronic signature solutions adapting their offer to the very specific needs of small structures and the self-employed. From there to hope for a 100% equipment rate by 2030? All hopes are allowed…

To find out everything about electronic signatures and electronic signature books, download the 2022 edition of the Archimag Supplement entirely dedicated to this theme.

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