Updated: Apr 14
Covid19 has changed and transformed how we do business, and its impact is still felt in supply chains, business processes, and remote work. E-signature is booming with the introduction of a new culture of remote offices and businesses rapidly moving to the cloud. In addition, business leaders are racing to replace traditional agreement processes with fully automated and digital ones!
We have compiled seven forecasts that will shape the outlook for digital contracts and the E-signature market in 2022 and beyond.
2022 E-signature Trends:
Organizations of all sizes will use E-signature as part of their contract process
During the last two years, businesses have been undergoing significant changes to maintain continuity and give customers better service. Many teams looking to relocate to remote-friendly operations began with E-signature. With the growing digitalization, most organizations currently use E-signature or plan to use them in the future. This means E-signature adoption is on the rise.
The use of E-signature will grow from a team-specific tool to a strategic imperative for the entire organization
E-signature technology is usually owned by the teams most likely involved in digital agreements: legal and IT. Although legal or IT teams may have initially driven E-signature efforts, ownership of the agreement process is more significant than any team.
With more agreements being generated, negotiated, executed, and stored digitally, each team in an organization will take an interest in E-signature. The sales department will want to streamline the contract creation and approval process. HR will want to simplify hiring and onboarding paperwork. The procurement department will seek to improve its negotiating capabilities with both new and existing vendors. Although legal and IT will remain the primary owners, other teams will become more involved in the success of E-signature.
New regulations will permit more types of contracts to be digitally signed
The modern E-signature law is more than 20 years old and has evolved over time as electronic signing has grown in popularity. Across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and dozens of other countries, laws and regulations have been enacted that allow E-signatures and electronic records to have the same legal effect as paper-based contracts.
Because of the pandemic, several governments have made it flexible to use digital signatures in areas that required physical signatures previously. Despite the risks associated with the pandemic, we expect technology to progress in a way that enables legally binding agreements previously thought to be infeasible.
The following examples illustrate how E-signature laws around the world continue to evolve to enable the digital business:
Many countries globally are slow to accept E-signatures, mortgage documents, deeds, wills, and powers of attorney. But in 2021, Australia revised its law (Electronic Transactions (Victoria) Act 2000) to allow E-signatures and Witness critical estate planning documents remotely.
In 2021, UK’s HM Land Registry took an innovative step that allowed conveyancing deeds (i.e., a deed transferring land) to be registered and signed through electronic signature. That means a consumer can sign a deed without needing to visit an office and sign on paper.
The Federal Reserve Bank, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US have released E-signature guidance that enables more forms and documents to be digitally signed.
New features will be added to the digital agreement collaboration
E-signature is often involved at the end of the contract process. Contract creation and negotiation may take place in an old-fashioned way, and then E-signature is used as the final step. Though this process is still better than the traditional paper-based process, it opens the possibilities for betterment. Electronic signatures have recently been identified as a critical gap filler enabling end-to-end digital workflows. A document is no longer required to be printed, signed, and then scanned. The effectiveness of digital tools has further demonstrated in the last couple of years that the entire agreement workflow can remain digital.
In the hybrid system, employees have become comfortable using various digital tools to accomplish transactions. Along with E-signatures, it will also conduct virtual negotiations and simplify contract revisions in real-time. This will permit organizations to get more work done using technologies they are already comfortable with.
Touchless experiences will shoot up
Touchless experience will boost up as people settle into a post-pandemic pattern. It will help consumers eliminate physical contact.
For example, patients can use their mobile devices to provide information and complete the entire process with an electronic signature rather than using a pen to fill out a form before medical visits. And when traveling by plane, cloud-based technology creates a contactless option for check-in, baggage drop, security, and boarding.
Strong identity verification will be seen for remote digital signatures.
Enterprises will make advancements in their digital transformation by strengthening their remote processes with robust authentication and ID verification checks.
Contract processes like account opening, hire paperwork, and notarization was performed in person traditionally. But due to work from home (WFH) and physical distancing rules, the need for higher identity assurance protocols to protect against fraud has occurred. This mainly applies to high-value and high-risk agreements in financial services, insurance, and similar industries. In low-risk scenarios, a simple email or SMS authentication may be enough. But for a high-risk agreement, stronger authentication using photo ID and biometric verification is necessary.
Hybrid human-digital experiences will continue to be used by businesses
Due to the pandemic, businesses and people have restricted the use of public settings, including bank branches and point-of-sale locations. But consumers are looking for channels where they can get human assistance once the activities get more complicated.
Even though the digital experience is crucial, consumers prefer hybrid experiences that meet their needs. Hence having the right balance between a digital and human-mediated service is the key. During some tasks, such as applying for a loan or life insurance policy, consumers may switch between digital and human-mediated experiences. Thus, these end-to-end digital tools must be offered online and by advisors.
New technologies like video conferencing, E-signature, and rich collaboration tools make it possible to recreate the face-to-face experience in a hybrid environment. Therefore in 2022, the adoption of hybrid experience-enabling innovative technologies will continue to grow.
Businesses, healthcare, and government organizations have taken significant steps to end the paper era in their digital transformation journeys. Businesses and enterprises are investing time and money to modernize their existing digital processes and increase efficiency. We believe the digital changes that has born due to the occurrence of the pandemic will remain in the new business ecosystem. Most people worldwide will continue to sign agreements electronically even after the pandemic. It reduces the workload on the internal team, improves referrals, and increases completion rates making sure customers don’t switch to your competitors.
How Can InkPaper Help?
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