Wet Signatures vs. Electronic Signatures — A Deep Dive

Wet Signatures vs. Electronic Signatures

In today’s lighting-paced business world, every second counts. Faster and more efficient business processes are key to a successful business in the 21st century. One process is signing documents and acquiring signatures which exist in many forms – physical, electronic, digital.

In this article, you will learn more about the differences among wet, electronic and digital signatures, and the analysis behind how adopting an e-signature solution such as DottedSign can save countless hours for your business.

What is a Wet Signature?

Wet Signature

A wet ink signature, formally defined, is when a person adds his physical mark on a document with ink — and lets it dry, implying that the signature was made of wax or ink.

For hundreds of years, signatures have been used to mark binding contracts. John Hancock was the first member of the Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776. While this famous and recognizable ink signature dried on paper, it binded the creation of a new country called the United States of America.

Wet Signatures have evolved as the default standard for centuries. But signing on paper is not the only way of authorizing a legal document or binding a contract. Today, electronic signatures are recognized as equally valid as if one has signed in person once the qualifications are met— and can save a significant amount of time and money for businesses.

What is the Difference Between Wet and Electronic Signatures?

Wet and Electronic Signatures

An electronic signature is a legally-binding and enforceable acknowledgment that a signer adds to a digital document. When the qualifications are met, the electronic signature is just as valid as a traditional handwritten signature.

At times, we might reckon that wet signatures are slow and inefficient, requiring the signers to be physically present at the signing, and have to be stored in a safe and physical location. Today’s global business landscape calls for a fast, convenient, and legal way to quickly acquire signatures from people around the world. This is why electronic signatures are the way to go.

According to Forbes Insights, electronic signatures can speed up business processes, and improve efficiency by 70-80% by adopting digital technologies like e-signature solutions.

Getting started with E-Signature is easy at DottedSign
Register your free account today and complete your first e-sign document in 3 steps.

What about Digital Signatures?

One common misconception is that electronic signatures and digital signatures are the same. An electronic signature generally refers to acknowledging receipt or acceptance of electronic documents, messages or transactions. It is a broad category that encompasses various types of electronic signatures, including digital signature.  A digital signature, on the other hand, is a type of highly-secure electronic signature that relies on public key infrastructure (PKI) to ensure that both signatures and documents are fully encrypted. Take a look at customer lifetime value examples, especially in the B2B sector.

While the underlying technology is complex, the concept of digital signatures is relatively straightforward. Every document signed using a digital signature has a PKI-based certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA), a type of a Trust Service Provider, to ensure identity authentication and document integrity. Any document amended after its completion would no longer display a valid digital certificate. This prevents unauthorized tampering once a signature is applied.

Are Electronic Signatures Legal?

Since the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) went into effect in 2000, electronic and digital signatures have held the same legal standing as wet signatures.

Nevertheless, business owners should also confirm the legal framework for such signatures in the markets in which they operate, although e-signatures have increasingly been accepted in an increasing number of jurisdictions worldwide.

Each jurisdiction has its applicable regulations against the legality of e-signatures which might be subject to exceptions and conditions. You may refer to the UETA and ESIGN Act in the United States, or eIDAS in the European Union, for specific documents where e-signatures are valid or not.

There are a couple of caveats, however. To make an electronic signature valid, you need to prove the signer’s identity, the signer’s consent, and to verify the signature and document’s integrity.

Why Switch to Electronic Signatures?

Electronic Signatures

Businesses today operate in fast-paced industries. In order to stay competitive in the market, accelerating the overall productivity and efficiency is no brainer. Some of these changes might take time, but low-hanging fruit such as e-signatures can be adopted almost immediately.

According to the research, the global eSignature market is projected to reach nearly 26.6% CAGR from 2021 to 2030. E-signatures also allow organizations to efficiently collect signatures without compromising security, where before it would be prohibitively expensive. The benefits of switching to electronic signatures simply outweigh that of collecting wet signatures:

Faster turnaround time — When collecting wet signatures, companies rely on delivery services, couriers, business days, and holiday schedules leading to slower processing. Electronic signatures cut the time it takes to complete a transaction by an average of nine days. Electronic papers can be received, examined, signed, and returned on almost any device, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Client story: Cyberbiz closes a deal within 28 minutes on average with DottedSign.

No hidden costs — Businesses must consider more than just the cost of the ink, the paper documents, and the overnight delivery service. When it takes more than a week to acquire a signed contract, businesses must additionally consider the cost of lost revenue in that time. A delay in sales contracts arriving could allow a potential client to look at other possibilities from competitors.

Better customer experience — Paper contracts can be lengthy and complicated to fill in at times. Not to mention when errors happen, the process has to start over. Compared with physical signing, adopting e-signature gives you greater agility to accurately deliver to signers in minutes, make adjustments, and reduce friction throughout the buying process.

Better record keeping — E-signatures are processed in digital forms, usually via an electronic signature service provider like DottedSign. Businesses can easily track, audit and store all signed documents on the cloud, protecting them from physical damage or lost files.

Saves paper — Companies using electronic signatures can feel good about helping to save the forests as well. This significant reduction of physical paper usage, and the water needed for paper production is great for the environment. So far, DottedSign has saved over 2 million sheets of paper and counting.

Use DottedSign to Accelerate Your Business Growth

A signature request using DottedSign can be done in minutes. We’ve been serving clients from various industries to digitally transform their signing process and make greater success. Feel free to read more about our client stories in our Blog.

Getting started with e-signature is easy! Register your free account, set up your e-signatures, and you’re ready to sign off your first digital document. Free trials of advanced features are also available on our website. You’d find them particularly useful for teams at different scales.

Need a personal demo? We’re here to help. Simply fill in the form to schedule a time with our expert team. We are more than happy to show you what more DottedSign can do and provide you with the best e-signature solution to incorporate into your business workflows.

Get started with DottedSign today! Digitize your signature process and enjoy the freedom of workplace mobility. Free trials available: https://bit.ly/3MLN1yJ

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