PDFs are one of the most widely used formats for delivering and receiving essential documents. Electronic signatures have also cut the conventional approval process by hours and are fast becoming the go-to for individuals and the industry-accepted standard among small, medium, and large-sized businesses.
Initially popularized by TV shows and movies, it has grown to become an indispensable part of official correspondence and documentation processes. Notwithstanding, there is still some skepticism in some quarters, or outright unwillingness to expend any capital on transitioning from traditional systems, which is largely due to the lack of reliable information about this new technology.
Why Do We Need eSign Tools?
The traditional system of signing documents involved printing documents out on paper, having them couriered to the 2nd party who would then append their signature, and then having them couriered back. You could also fax or scan the documents over, but that only works in B2B correspondences where both parties have the required equipment.
Digital signature technology completely revolutionizes the process. You might ask: how?
Digital Signatures are More Convenient and Efficient, and They Save Time
Using a digital signature tool like Smallpdf’s eSign, all you need to do is share the documents with the recipient, who will then append their signature using the tool, and send them back. It doesn’t get more convenient or efficient than that. You cut out having to print and courier, saving both time, energy and money.
With the previous system, you had to spend money on purchasing paper and paying courier services, or hire staff to deal with all the paperwork. Using an e-Sign tool instead allows you to cut all of that out. With its comparatively tiny costs, it allows you to save on the running cost of your business.
Running a paper-based system often requires complex filing and storage systems, and special employees to handle them, as I mentioned in the point above. E-Sign takes away the need for that. Digital documents can be stored indefinitely on computers with significantly higher capacity than any filing cabinet. It increases your storage capacity, while also reducing physical clutter. This ramps up your storage efficiency.
Environmentally Friendly too!
While historically this has been seen as irrelevant, we cannot neglect the fact that a significant number of trees are cut down every year to produce paper and this impacts our climate by contributing to deforestation and the loss of carbon-absorbing forests across the world (nevermind, the loss of irreplaceable habitats). Using e-Sign reduces the demand for paper and it directly reduces the number of trees that are cut down, making the environment better for all of us.
How to eSign Digital Documents?
Smallpdf’s electronic signature tool is designed for universal use. So, it doesn’t matter whether you use a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC, as long as you can access the internet, you can use the tool. All you have to do is:
- Step 1: Open your browser and go to the Smallpdf eSign tool
- Step 2: Click on the “Sign a document” option
- Step 3: Click on “Choose File” to browse and select the document from your PC. You can also drag and drop your PDF in the box instead
- Click on “your signature” and a field will open up where you can draw your signature using either a mouse or a stylus.
- You can also use the “initials” option for documents requiring initials.
- If you want to add any text to the document, you can with the option “Text Field”.
- To date the document, use the “Date Field”
- Step 4: When you are done, simply click on “Finish & Sign”, and then you can download your electronically signed document.
You can also upload a photo of your signature to the tool to attach to your document. And you can request signatures from dozens of people. Enter their emails and the tool will mail it, along with any included text, to the recipients for them to append their signatures.
How Safe is the eSign Technology?
The process of appending electronic signatures to documents automatically encrypts them. The encrypted file logs several other important data associated with the document to protect it from cyber breaches. Smallpdf’s e-Sign tool, for instance, uses military-grade 256-TLS encryption.
The information logged includes, but is not limited to; the identity of the creator of the file, the medium by which the document was shared, the IP addresses of the sender and the receiver, any modifications made to the document, and the time of the transaction. Regardless of how long the document is stored, all of this information can always be retrieved.
All of this works using a system called public-key cryptography. This has two components; the private key and the public key. The private key encrypts the data for the sender and is exclusive to them. The public key, on the other hand, decrypts parts of the data for the recipient. This ensures that everyone who accesses the document is properly identified and logged, thus preserving its authenticity.
The law provides guidelines for standards in the production and application of electronic signature tools. These guidelines are enshrined in the ESIGN Act of the United States, and the US-EU Safe Harbor Framework. It’s always wise to check local regulations about digital signatures for yourself when using a tool like this.