We recently caught up with Patrick Beckman Lapré, Global Director Sales of Document Signing at Ascertia partner DigiCert to talk about the digitalisation of processes and the impact of eIDAS on the adoption of remote signing across Europe.
Never has the inconvenience of handwritten signatures for legal documents been more obvious than in the past year. Due to the pandemic, we have seen companies forced to send couriers to people’s homes to pick up their physical signature, and it has been even worse for those businesses whose employees are geographically dispersed.
It’s not surprising that as a result of the remote working challenges companies have faced, there has been significant interest in electronic signing technology.
For example, DigiCert recently welcomed multiple Dutch governmental bodies like Doc-Direkt and the Ministry of Justice & Security as a customer, and we are expecting to onboard over 1,000 users shortly to enjoy the convenience of our digital signing solution.
Not only can we offer basic electronic signatures, but as a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP) working in partnership with Ascertia, we deliver advanced (AATL) and/or qualified digital certificates. This is driving demand.
eIDAS setting global standards
The other significant driver for us is that in the EU we benefit from the eIDAS regulation which enables citizens, businesses and public sector bodies to carry out convenient and secure electronic transactions and improve interoperability between countries.
What is now emerging is a desire for the same type of regulation to be introduced for the rest of the world – eIDAS has become a standard bearer for trusted systems for electronic identification.
With this in place and a few adjustments to allow for geographical specifics, countries are asking why it would be necessary to reinvent the wheel. In Japan they are literally copying eIDAS. In the USA, while they allow for regional differences, the platform is so similar that we can fulfil US Federation requirements with just small changes to the process.
Companies like ours, of which there are very few, can offer global services, based on accepted regulations, and add in digital signing and certification. Our customers can purchase their digital identity and signing services with just one single contract, which is the goal of DigiCert® ONE.
eIDAS – new vs old rules
Regulations should evolve and in the last couple of months new eIDAS guidelines and documentation have emerged. The reason for this is to plug some gaps regarding ETSI, which supports the development and testing of global technical standards for IT systems and services.
As a result, we can expect a period of transition because some QTSPs have adopted, or even created, new standards and they will need to move back to those presented as part of the new eIDAS regulations. With new standards, it becomes easier for companies to ensure they meet actual regulations, and not a draft version, which would not sit well with auditors.
Digital transformation and e-signatures
Whilst it might be coincidental, there is a timeliness to the eIDAS alterations. As the world adopts a more hybrid approach to work and we see physical meetings taking place again, and employees going back into the office at least some of the time, the demand for digital signing will continue apace.
Companies were forced to move to a remote model and very quickly accelerated their digital transformation projects, but the advantage of this is that they saw how beneficial signing documents or contracts digitally could be in modernising their processes. In our view it is unlikely this particular digitalisation trend will change.
Ascertia’s network of 100+ trusted partners including resellers, distributors and systems integrators provide expert service to customers in their regions and provide support in local languages. Our network also includes many Certificate Authorities (CAs) and Trust Service Providers (TSPs) who rely on our signing, timestamping and validation solutions to complement their own solutions and services.
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