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Why “High Trust” is the New Rule of eSigning

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Everything you need to know about high-trust eSigning and how it allows your organization to prevent fraud and collect secure, legally binding and compliant agreements.

In today’s evolving digital landscape where the majority of business happens online, organizations are increasingly concerned about cybercrime and fraud. People are no longer physically shaking hands when they sign a contract, so building trust with customers and vendors happens through electronic transactions. This includes signing legally binding documents through secure eSignatures.

Every electronic signature your organization processes is important to the business in different ways. But some documents are exceptionally important and, if not electronically signed with safety, security and compliance in mind, could potentially land you in court or cost the organization large sums of money in lost business. The problem is that many companies treat all eSignature solutions and processes the same, which can lead to unfavorable results and legal consequences.

While electronic signing can benefit all organizations, it cannot be a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

What is High-Trust eSigning?

At Nitro, we provide “High-Trust” eSigning and believe it is the future of electronic signatures. Many countries have already passed, or are currently working on implementing, regulations and higher standards of eSign compliance. High trust is more than a term; it represents the most important pillars of eSign security and compliance every organization should consider, no matter what solution is used.

The 3 Components of High-Trust eSigning

A secure eSignature solution that meets high-trust standards combines multiple layers of protection, including:

State-of-the-Art Security

If a document dispute lands you in court, you must provide proof that the document is legally binding. Your eSign solution should:

  • apply an electronic seal to certify the document has not been tampered with
  • provide evidence that the signer’s identity was properly verified
  • ensure the file was encrypted at rest and in transit

Legal Compliance

Many industries and countries have stringent regulations all electronic signatures must meet. To ensure compliance, an eSignature platform should meet the most stringent international requirements and seamlessly integrate with government and third-party identity verification and authentication services.

Fraud Prevention

Fraud typically occurs when a signer misrepresents themselves or tampers with a document after signing. To reduce fraud and ensure secure eSignatures, platforms should offer multiple levels of identity verification, use tamper-proof technology and provide built-in audit trails to track and record all recipient interactions.

Why High Trust eSigning Matters More Than Ever

High-value documents and agreements, or when there is a high risk of dispute, need extra measures to ensure electronic signatures are secure and legally binding. Specific countries and industries also have specific compliance requirements, and it can get complicated and overwhelming for organizations to keep track of it all. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced software vendor that specializes in high-trust, secure eSignatures.

With a dispersed workforce and more online processes, organizations increasingly face situations where high trust is critical, especially when signing a document with someone you’ve never met in person and don’t have a foundational level of trust with.

There are many use cases where high-trust eSignatures are needed and valuable. Here are a few:

Financial services organizations that deal with high-risk monetary transactions and transfers need high-trust, secure eSigning with identity verification. A common use case for financial services and investment organizations is KYC (Know Your Client/Customer) to verify a client’s identity, prevent fraud or illegal activity and/or digitally onboard them such as creating a new bank or credit card account.

Employers that want to verify signatures from new hires. In the past, companies held interviews in person and employees worked on-site. Now, new hires aren’t always met in person before being provided access to privileged systems and databases, which means a higher level of identity verification is needed to guard against fraud.

Global businesses operating or transacting in different geographic locations or industries with specific regulations for electronic signing. For a document to be legally binding, it must meet the highest standard of compliance which adds to the complexity and need for a high-trust, secure eSign solution.

For example, for a contract to be legally binding in the EU it must meet specific identity verification processes. However, that process may not be required in North America. If a company headquartered in Paris signs a contract with a California-based company, the document must meet the stricter EU standards. If it doesn’t, the document is not legally binding, and the Paris-based company may be able to break the contract without repercussions. Regulations often apply both to the locations of the signers as well as the company headquarters. This makes remote and hybrid work processes even more complicated.

Does Your Organization Need a High-Trust eSign Solution?

High-trust eSignatures can require a lengthier workflow process and add additional costs. If documents only need a signature for ceremonial value, the high-trust process isn’t needed. Employees and clients can also quickly become frustrated with extra steps that aren’t needed for every single document.

What do we mean by ‘ceremonial’ value? For example, a tenured employee who needs to officially sign their performance review. That document likely does not need extra identity verification for the signer and won’t be involved in a legal proceeding. While you might want a high-trust and secure eSignature when signing a contract with a new vendor you found online, you might not need the same process when renewing your contract with the company that has shown up every day for the past two years to provide services for the office.

When determining whether a document needs the high-trust process, think about the 3 pillars.

  • Does the eSignature need to adhere to a specific compliance regulation?
  • Are you concerned the document could wind up in court?
  • Do you know the person or people signing the document personally?

If you are only using an eSignature to speed up the process and the signature is ceremonial, you should use the fastest and easiest digital signature method possible.

Flexibility is Key

Many eSignature platforms either provide a high-trust and secure eSign process to all documents or do not offer this level of security and verification at all. Nitro is unique in our flexibility, which allows businesses to choose the level of security and verification needed for each document so the organization achieves the most productive, compliant and cost-effective approach to electronic signing.

Contact our experts to learn more about high-trust eSigning. You can also schedule a demo or start a free business pilot trial to explore how Nitro fits into your workflows for compliance and security.