The Best Esignature Options in 2021
ESignatures became legally binding in 2000 & have increased their popularity & need ever since. Read a guide to the best eSignature options in 2021.
The importance and ease of handling many things online was brought into the spotlight during 2020. COVID-19 forced many normal in-person scenarios into an online environment including the signing of legal and other important documents. Granted, eSignatures were in use and popular long before the pandemic first hit the U.S. last year. Since becoming legally binding in 2000 the eSignature has increased in popularity and daily use around the world.
How has COVID-19 created more of a need for eSignatures? What are some primary eSignature benefits and how does it save you time and money? Certain eSignature companies on the market are particularly popular and successful today. Read ahead for a fun and informative guide to the best eSignature options in 2021.
Brief History of the Digital Signature
The concept of the eSignature has existed since at least 1976 when Stanford cryptography pioneers Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman publicly suggested its potential as a viable service. One year later the Rivest–Shamir–Adleman (RSA) algorithm was created by Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Len Adleman. The RSA algorithm exhibited the way a primitive digital signature could be created and in 1988 was publicly marketed as part of the Lotus Notes 1.0 software package.
It took eleven more years (1999) for the first digital signature to be embedded into a portable document format (PDF). It took only one year after that to make eSignatures legally binding. The ESIGN act of 2000 was signed into law then in 2002 SIGNIX, the most trusted name in digital signatures was founded. In 2008 the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) declared PDFs as open standards. This declaration helped affirm digital signatures as integral parts of PDFs and document signing going forward.
Electronic Signatures - Why the Need?
A comfort level exists in signing documents in the presence of another person. ESignatures, like so many other technological advances, were met with some distrust when first made public. The convenience and benefits of using eSignatures was not lost on businessmen around the world long before the 2020 pandemic made them a necessity, however. Today eSignatures are more common because they help maintain safe social distancing without sacrificing legal status or protection. Even without COVID-19 in consideration, eSignatures are appropriate for the fast and hectic pace of the modern business world. Sometimes transactions simply need to be completed fast and eSignatures help make that happen.
Using eSignatures provides multiple benefits for all parties involved. Convenience is of course the first and most obvious benefit from this type of document signing process. Documents requiring eSignatures are capable of arriving anywhere in the world having a Wi-Fi or data connection within seconds (or minutes pending location/situation). ESignature security is also strong. Knowledge based authentication (KBA) is used when signing certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms. KBA is an automatic independent verification protocol also available for non-government-purposed forms. ESignature security benefits also include workflow tracking. Workflow tracking keeps a record of all program/network traffic and people who affected/the document in some way.
Convenience, security, and tracking are not the only benefits received from using eSignatures in 2021. Financial, positive client experience and environmental benefits also exist. For example, eSignatures are paperless options and therefore reduce waste products. Printing, scanning, and traveling are also eliminated, making eSignatures an environmentally friendly option. Your clients are happier when time and money normally spent on traveling is eliminated. You also save money by eliminating travel expenses and get paid faster due to expedited signature/closing processes.
ESignature benefits also include storage, collaboration and recall capabilities. Documents are stored in secure, centralized locations such as SmartVault. Finding archived documents is as simple as conducting a digital file directory search. Collaboration leading to final agreements is easier as well. Virtual meeting rooms and virtual offices are commonplace in 2021. Using ESignatures to close the deal at the end of a successful meeting or creative endeavor makes the experience all the more fulfilling for each active party.
Finally, using eSignatures helps keep you safe during times of a global pandemic. COVID-19-based restrictions are lifting, and vaccinations are effective to-date. The virus is not cured, however and people are still at risk. Even without COVID-19 in existence traveling puts people at risk of catching colds, the flu or worse. ESignatures keeps you safe at home and your documents/deals safe and secure online.
How ESignatures Save You Time & Money
Meeting in person requires planning and commuting if not long-distance travel. Travelling costs money and preparing for travel takes time. If you are preparing paper documents yourself, you also have to spend time and money on printing supplies and making sure the papers printed accurately. Even if you have staff to do such things the time they spend preparing and performing quality control on paper documents could be used for much more important (and profit-generating) tasks.
A twenty-page document takes only seconds to attach to an email or other electronic delivery method and send. Printing that same twenty-page document in duplicate, triplicate or more is time-consuming and tedious. Travel, manpower and supply-based expenses are all significantly reduced by using eSignatures.
Top Companies Providing ESignatures
The top eSignature companies provide platforms to simplify and automate your signature process, while also offering excellent customer service and document storage/management features. Some companies and services offer free trial periods, while others only reveal pricing via private quotes. Top companies such as DocuSign allow customers/clients to sign up for free then pay an affordable $10/month entry-level subscription fee thereafter. Additional 2021 eSignature companies and pricing information as available include:
HelloSign ($0, $15, $20 & $custom pricing per user per month).
PandaDoc ($0, $19, $49 & $custom pricing per user per month).
Adobe Sign ($9.99. $14.99 & $19.99mo per user per month).
eSignatures.io (flat $0.49/sent contract w/zero monthly, setup or extra API fees; non-profits get 40% additional discount).
SignNow ($8, $15, $30 or $50 per user per month).
EverSign (free, $9.99, $39.99, $79.99 & $custom pricing per user per month).