Wet Signatures vs. Electronic Signatures — A Deep Dive

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 physical documents (a physical paper document) and acquiring signatures, which exist in many forms.

In this article, you will learn more about the differences between 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 is when a person adds their physical mark on a binding 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 Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776. While this famous and recognizable ink signature dried on paper forms, it bound the creation of a new country called the United States of America.

Wet signatures have become the default standard for centuries as they create electronic records. But signing methods on paper are not the only way of authorizing a legal document or binding contract.

Today, electronic signatures are recognized as equally valid as if someone has signed in person once the qualifications are met. Being able to do this can save a significant amount of valuable time and money for businesses as it is more of an automated process.

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What is the Wet Signature Rule?

The wet signature rule refers to the traditional method of signing legal documents, which involves physically marking the document with ink on paper. It is a long-standing legal requirement for certain contracts and documents, where the form of signature is a physical mark made by hand. This signing process is considered the standard for many legal documents.

Can a wet signature be scanned and emailed? 

Yes, a wet signature can be scanned and emailed in electronic format. However, it’s important to ensure security measures are in place to maintain the integrity of the signature during transmission. In many jurisdictions, scanned wet signatures hold legal recognition when appropriate security precautions are taken.

What are the disadvantages of a wet signature? 

In today’s business world, wet ink signatures have disadvantages. They pose a security risk, as they have the potential to be forged or altered. Verifying the identity of signers can be challenging. Storing physical documents can be inconvenient and expensive. Lastly, paper-based processes with wet signatures tend to be slower and less efficient compared to electronic alternatives.

What is the Difference Between Wet and Electronic Signatures?

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

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

According to Forbes Insights, electronic signatures can speed up business processes for lots of people and improve efficiency by 70-80% by adopting digital platform technologies like basic 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 is Digital Signature?

DottedSign_sign on iPad

One common misconception is that electronic signatures and digital platform signatures are the same types of signature. An electronic signature generally refers to acknowledging receipt or acceptance of electronic documents, messages, or transactions. It is a broad category encompassing various types of electronic signatures, including digital signatures. 

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 original documents are fully encrypted. Both B2B businesses and B2C customer service providers.

This business need is essential, but they should switch to electronic signatures as they are more reliable and safe. 

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 trust service provider to ensure identity authentication and document integrity. 

Any document amended after completion would no longer display a valid digital certificate. This prevents unauthorized tampering once a physical signature (dry signature) is applied.

Are Electronic Signatures Legal?

Since electronic signatures in the 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 a dynamic signature in the markets in which they operate. Although e-signatures have increasingly been accepted in 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 original documents where e-signatures are valid or not.

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

Why Switch to Electronic Signatures?

B2B sales digitization

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

According to research, the global e-signature market is projected to reach nearly 26.6% CAGR from 2021 to 2030. The use of e-signatures also allows organizations to efficiently collect signatures without compromising security.

The benefits of switching to electronic signatures simply outweigh that of collecting wet signatures. These benefits include

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.

Check out how one of our clients, Cyberbiz, manages to close deals within 28 minutes on average using DottedSign’s modern software tool for e-signatures.

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 required, 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 often be lengthy and complicated to fill in, leading to potential errors and the need to restart the entire process. However, by incorporating the electronic signature option, you can significantly enhance the customer experience.

With e-signatures, you gain greater agility in delivering contracts to signers within minutes, making adjustments as needed, and minimizing friction throughout the buying process. Embracing e-signatures becomes an indispensable step in business transactions, particularly if you operate in the online realm and aim to streamline operations for increased efficiency.

Better record keeping

With the adoption of electronic signatures, businesses can streamline their record-keeping processes. Electronic signatures are processed digitally, often through an electronic signature service provider like DottedSign, which facilitates the efficient tracking, auditing, and storage of all signed documents. By leveraging the cloud, businesses can safeguard these documents from physical damage or the risk of misplaced files. Incorporating robust cloud management software further enhances the security and accessibility of data, ensuring that all documents are stored safely. and compliant with the requirements of a Certificate of Authority.

Saves paper

Companies using electronic signatures can feel good about helping to save the forests as well. The significant reduction of using a piece of paper and the water needed for paper production is great for the environment. Whether you’re working on a sales outreach, non-profit fundraising online, or any other project, this option is both handy and savvy. So far, DottedSign has saved over 2 million sheets of paper and counting.

Use DottedSign to Accelerate Your Business Growth

An actual signature request using DottedSign can be done in minutes. We’ve been serving clients from various industries to digitally transform their signing methods and help make them a greater success. 

Getting started with an e-signature is easy! Register your free account, set up your e-signatures, and you’re ready to sign off your first digital type of document. Free trials of advanced features are also available on our website. 

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 how DottedSign can provide you with the best e-signature solution to incorporate into your business workflows. Need more convincing? Feel free to read about our client stories in our blog.

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