Digital Signatures Keep Business Moving

How Will This Affect the Print and Capture Market?



Anne Valaitis


Signing physical documents with a pen and ink is a common occurrence in business and in consumer/home life. Personally, I have had to sign forms for insurance, mortgages, school enrollment, HR benefits, loan applications, and the list goes on.  The use of “wet” ink signatures is embedded in so many business processes that it has been challenging and slow to transform.  Digital or electronic signing is not a new concept. In fact, more than 20 years ago, the ability to embed a digital signature into a pdf was possible and iterations of digital signing were around for years before that. 


So why did it take so long to become mainstream?


The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (or ESIGN) was formally signed into law in June of 2000 by then President Bill Clinton. The ESIGN act was introduced to make e-commerce business more streamlined, showed no inherent bias to a technology, and (more importantly) that it was considered legal for commerce nationwide.  Electronic signatures and digital signatures are technically different, but are often used to refer to the same outcome.  Visually, an electronic signature would look and feel like it’s handwritten, whereas a digital signature would act more like a “type” of electronic signature and resembles block computer type.


Example of a digital signature


Example of an electronic signature


Digital signatures have transformed processes across a variety of business types and sizes. The benefits are quick to realize and traditional metrics such as saving resources of time, labor, and money are immediately reflected after implementation. Benefits aside, the adoption has not been as explosive as one might think since its inception. Many companies were sluggish to implement, while some have only integrated single applications, processes, or forms. Initially, the question of legality was the common inhibitor; second to that was often a lack of trust in the concept or technology in general. However, COVID-19 has accelerated the need to conduct business without the persistence of a “wet” signature and the sharing of physical documents.


In the 2018 Keypoint Intelligence Multi-client Study The Future of Office Print, when referencing documents that are printed, 66% chose “documents that require a signature”—validating that an overwhelming amount of printing is directly correlated to signatures.  With a movement towards digital signatures, the impact to print and scan capture is inevitable, especially during an uncertain full return to work. Many processes have now been altered to ensure companies can continue to move forward and maintain pace.


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Moving through 2020 and into 2021, we have some early research to suggest that businesses that were invested in digital signature technology are indeed using it. More importantly, a growing number of companies have new investments in the technology due to COVID-19. This certainly suggests that, due to COVID-19, this headway will continue.  In a large swath of company sizes and types overall digitization and use of the cloud has exploded. The need to access business content from anywhere, at any time has never been more significant than during a period where not all businesses are physically or fully open. A more widely accepted use of digital signatures ensures that business can not only more forward, but can conduct transactions as safely and securely as they once had with “wet” signatures.  Keypoint Intelligence expects the growing trend of digitization and digital signatures to make an impact on traditional scan and print while allowing business to quickly process and move content into key areas of the business.