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How valid are electronic signatures?

"Until a contract is signed, nothing is real" - Glenn Danzig.


Johannesburg, 18 Aug 2017
Read time 2min 50sec

For so long, we have been using signatures to show that parties are bound by the terms of an agreement. According to Michalsons, people sign things because of a fundamental human need for certainty. A signature creates certainty that people will do what they promised as agreed. While we've always relied on handwritten signatures, electronic signatures are better at achieving certainty and are most certainly quicker and more efficient.

We're now living in a fast-paced world of technology that allows us to conduct business with people halfway across the world. In the same way that we've moved from physical post to e-mail and cash to credit cards, similarly, we should move from handwritten signatures to electronic ones.

Based on this, we'll explore why Meniko's GreenForm electronic signatures are a secure and reliable legal alternative to handwritten signatures under the South African law.

GreenForm is an electronic signature solution with the following features:

* Web-based solution that works on any platform (Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, or Android);
* Responsive electronic forms that are designed to look like existing hard-copy forms;
* Business rules that you can apply to form fields;
* Signature on device with finger or stylus which simulates the experience of a handwritten signature;
* Data lookup capability, where the system can auto-populate a form based on an ID number;
* Data interrogation which enables you to pre-populate a form;
* Offline capability with synchronisation;
* Output capability in pdf, jpg, html, csv, and other formats;
* White label functionality so that you can make it appear to be your own solution; and
* Device manager that allows you to link the Web browser to hardware devices such as signature pads, fingerprint readers, or scanners.

In terms of section 13(2) of the ECT Act (Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002), GreenForm's electronic signatures are valid signatures despite being in the electronic form of electronic signature data associated with an electronic document.

GreenForm's electronic signatures are an effective way of facilitating electronic communications within any transaction, enrolment, or KYC application where an agent is involved, such as in the insurance, security, and services industries, because they allow paperless contracts to be generated in PDF format. Customers are generally more comfortable with a visual signature than without and are therefore in line with the objects of the ECT Act.

According to Michalsons, a signature, whether handwritten or electronic, has four functions:

* Identification - it identifies the person signing the document;
* Attribution - it links that specific person to that document;
* Assent - sometimes it shows that the person signing assented to the contents of the document (for example, where someone agrees to be bound by the contents of a document by signing it); and
* Authenticity - it shows that the document is authentic (for example, where the parties signing indicate that a document is authentic).

You can, therefore, use electronic records as proof of any signature generated by GreenForm because the GreenForm solution meets the evidentiary requirements in the ECT Act.

Download the Michalsons Electronic Signature Handbook

[Source] Original article from Michalsons
Copyright 2002-2017 Michalsons (www.michalsons.co.za). All rights reserved.

Editorial contacts
Meniko Records Management Services Rea Manonyane rea@meniko.co.za
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