Not so long ago, we have listed here some of the key advantages of e-signature. To recap, it boosts ROI by saving time, increasing efficiency and reducing paper related costs. But it also has some not-so-obvious competitive advantages that you might not have heard by now.
1. E-signature may be compulsory in public procurement
In 2014, European Union introduced the obligation (under certain conditions, of course) for member states authorities to use electronic means of communication (including electronic signature) with economic operators when dealing with public procurement or tender procedures. Since member states were free to choose how to transpose this directive into national laws, public purchasing requirements and procedures may differ from one country to another. Nonetheless, electronic signature can be a prerequisite for accessing public tenders.
To give you an idea, in France, it is up to public authorities to decide if their economic counterparts must electronically sign documents related to a public offer. When electronic signature is required, the signatory of the public contract needs to use either an advanced electronic signature based on a qualified certificate or a qualified electronic signature. In addition, the electronic signature certificate must comply with eIDAS Regulation and be issued by a qualified trust service provider (QTSP). The Bulletin official des announces des marchés publics (BOAMP) provides all the detailed information regarding public procurement in France.
You should expect similar requirements and procedures if you plan to apply for public procurement contracts in Belgium. On the portal of the Belgian Public Procurement Service you can find a comprehensive presentation about electronic signature in e-tendering in Belgium (available here). In Luxembourg, according to Portail des marchés publics, signing electronically public offers is mandatory. All tenders must be signed before submission with a dedicated signature tool provided by LuxTrust (smartcard or signing stick) and using a qualified certificate provided by a QTSP on the EU Trusted List.
Drawing from the examples above, we can notice that the use of a qualified certificate for electronic signature issued by a QTSP is a recurrent provision. To better understand the role of a QTSP on the market, have a look at our article here.
2. Helps deterring fraudulent behaviours
Here are some real-life business examples where electronic signature can help organisations in fighting fraud:
a. An insurance company sends a contract to a client to sign. The client modifies the conditions in his favour before signing and sending it back. By implementing an e-signature level that allows tampering detection, the company could avoid the unnecessary and time-consuming task of checking whether the contact version sent by the client corresponds to what it was initially agreed on. In addition, if the document was modified, the e-signature would become automatically invalided and the company would no longer be bonded to the contract.
b. Invoicing is another fraud vulnerable operation. A malicious person may “interfere” with the bank accounts details on the invoice and you may end up wiring the payment to a different entity than the right one. Again, with an e-signature (completed by a time stamping service), each signing party is certain that no one modified, not even slightly, the document. Moreover, the exact details of the signing event (date, time, signer’s IP etc.) are duly recorded and could serve as evidence in case of litigation.
Obviously, not all e-signature levels can provide this level of assurance and security, the advanced and qualified ones being more appropriate for the scenarios described above. You can learn more about the different types of e-signature in one of your previous articles (accessible here).
3. Strengthens market positioning
“Be the first” is not just a sports imperative, but also a basic marketing principle which implies that if a business is the first to penetrate a market, then its leader position is practically ensured. Nowadays, it is quite hard to find “unexplored markets”, so bringing something new or being different, unique, original from the others can win you market share. E-signature is a game changer in terms of differentiation. If you are the first to adopt it in your business niche, then you will be able push forward a feature that your competition does not yet propose.
LuxTrust, being a QTSP listed in EU Trusted List, provides all types of e-signature levels in full compliance with eIDAS Regulation. If you are looking to up your game, contact us.
*Disclaimer: The above represents LuxTrust’s understanding of the relevant regulation and should not be taken, relied on or interpreted as a legal opinion. Customers are encouraged to seek independent legal advice before acting on this information.