When we hear the word signature, we immediately think about the wet signature.
For decades, wet signatures have been the first choice to formally authorize the content of a document, contract, or transaction.
Even though this method is still the preferred way and mainly used across governmental entities and organizations, many businesses are moving away from wet ink signature as the preferred authorization requirement to adopt newer methods.
In this article, we will discover wet signature definition and the difference between digital, and electronic signatures.
What Is a Wet Signature?
By definition, a wet signature, ink signature, or wet ink signature is generated when we physically mark (wet sign) a paper document using a pen or any other writing device.
The presence of wet signed documents serves as proof of approval and makes it legally binding.
The most common wet ink signature is to sign a document using wet ink or a pen.
Original wet ink signature doesn’t have to be a person’s name. Throughout history, people used different wet ink sign on a piece of paper. The most used wet sign which would be enough to authenticate writing are:
- Personal seal
- Typed names
- Simply put “X”: You can perfectly and lawfully sign a contract by marking an “X” on it.
While electronic & digital signatures have been on the rise and organizations are accepting them, some governmental entities and businesses require wet ink signatures.
For instance, most banks and governments are still mandating to have wet signatures for proof of authorization.
With universal access to the internet and online technology today, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how we sign documents, shifting from wet signatures to electronic signatures.
After COVID19, we have seen major businesses shifting to digital signatures. As a matter of fact, one of the mega construction project in the middle east used digital signature for the project award contract.
What Is Electronic Signature?
The way we sign contracts and documents on a daily basis has changed dramatically.
While a wet sign or a wet ink signature requires a physical mark on a document (wet signed documents), electronic signatures rely on electronic messages, documents or transactions.
An electronic signature refers to the means of replacing wet signed documents by electronic means in virtually any process. Some examples include:
- Scanned image of handwritten signatures (wet signature scanned)
- Sign the email with your credentials or name: acknowledgment of an electronic message, which may be a name at the end of an email or a typed name.
- Consent or approval of electronic forms or documents
- Agree or disagree on terms and agreements
- Drawing signatures on tablets or smartphones
- Transactions: Your 4 digit pin code serves as an electronic signature, identifying you as a distinct person connected with an account and processing your transaction.
Since the U.S approved the law to legalize electronic signatures in every U.S state, they have become more commonly used internationally.
Countries are adopting the e signature act as a way to authenticate legal documents.
While the terms digital signature and electronic signature are used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.
What is Digital Signature?
As the world is moving into digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation, there was a need to create solutions to meet our modern demands.
The old-fashioned way of authenticating a document (wet signed documents) or a transaction using wet signature should transform and align with our digital world.
More businesses rely on online transactions that require an individual to agree and sign digitally rather than the old-fashioned method of printing a document, filling it out by hand, and mailing it to them.
Nowadays, you can complete an online purchase by using your smartphone, tablet, or computer and without requiring to have an original wet signature.
That’s where a secure digital signature comes in handy.
A document may be made much more legally binding by the use of a digital signature. The document’s security is enhanced by the digital signature certificate process, which allows it to be kept confidential between the parties.
You can think about digital signature as the next generation of electronic signature which uses some sort of user identification. This involves using cryptographic means of protecting the document to prevent tampering.
Digital signatures act as a sort of fingerprint for electronic transactions guaranteeing the authenticity of the person signing the document and that no modifications have done to the document after the signing process.
They provide a much higher level of protection and convenience – most digital signature software on the market has a number of encryptions to keep the documents safe.
Why Digital Signature is Better Than Wet Signature?
Studies have shown that using secure digital signatures in organizations can save the equivalent of a whole working week per year for every employee.
A physical document is more likely to being destroyed, stolen, or compromised than a contract that is stored remotely and safely in the cloud.
A recent study shows that when switching from wet to electronic signatures, companies save between 55 and 78 percent on average taking into account expenses such as supplies, management, and subscriptions..
It will help finalize the digital signature process in a matter of minutes, improve productivity, reduce costs, and it is paperless.
The same study mentioned above demonstrates that It takes 37 minutes on average to receive a signed contract with an electronic signature. The procedure could take up to 5 days or more if done the usual way.
- Reduce costs: The use of a digital signature helps you to save money on physical storage, mailing or couriering papers, and printing. The greater the number of documents handled by your company, the greater the reduction.
- Improve Overall Business Operations: Consider how wet signed documents can stymie your business’s operations. Consider how much time we would lose if we had a large number of papers to sign from different parties based in different geographical locations. It’s possible the processing would have to pass through many departments and workflows.
- Sign Anytime & Anywhere: You may use digital signature solutions to complete a digital contract signing, leave requests, or procedure from anywhere. Documents can be remotely signed by you while on holiday or a business trip using your smartphone or laptop. Other parties aren’t waiting for you to come to the office to wet signed documents. The digital signature process is much more effective, safer, and convenient.
- Centralized Document Storage: Organizations expend fewer resources on document preservation since all files are stored online. Finding a document became a much easier process, which was formerly a painful job involving digging filing cabinets and a pile of papers.
- Enhanced Customer Experience: Sharing and signing documents online with secure digital signature speeds up the process and makes it more comfortable for consumers. It saves a significant amount of time and resources. It allows clients to manage documents more efficiently and move on to the next business steps.
- Improved Security: Documents digitally signed provide a high degree of confidentiality. They cannot be forged or altered. Anyone trying to change the document can be quickly tracked down and detected. Any improper access is reported to the original owner.
- Eco-friendly: Adopting digital signature solutions eliminates the need for paper. It protects forests, lowers the carbon footprint, and adds to environmental conservation.
Digital Signature Integrated In ECM Solutions
Many document-based business processes like purchase orders can be automated using the BPM module in an ECM system.
Having the ability to digitally sign documents incorporated within automated processes will help employees speed up business operations.
Furthermore, it can help improve customer loyalty by allowing the company to adapt to customers more quickly.
A solid ECM system with seamless digital signature integration will help speed up the signing of a pdf in comparison to paper-based documents and a wet signature.
Check out the full guide to enterprise content management to know more about ECM.
Signatures are one of the things that have evolved as a result of today’s fast-paced technological climate. Prior to the modern age, wet signatures were produced using a pen; but, in the digital era, wet signatures should not be used any longer.
Digital & electronic signatures provide the same authority yet they are aligned with our digital world.
Wet signatures were formerly the standard, but digital signatures are increasingly replacing them since they are faster, quicker, safer, and more convenient.
What is Wet Signature?
A wet signature is produced when we physically mark (wet sign) a paper document using a pen or other writing implement.
What is Electronic Signature (e-signature)?
An electronic signature refers to the means of replacing wet signed documents by electronic means in virtually any process.
What is Digital Signature?
Consider digital signatures to be the next generation of electronic signatures that include some form of user identity. This entails utilizing cryptographic methods to safeguard the document from manipulation.
Why Digital Signature is Better Than Wet Signature?
- Reduce costs
- Improve Overall Business Operations
- Sign Anytime & Anywhere
- Centralized Document Storage
- Enhanced Customer Experience
- Improved Security