Hey! Wait, don’t they mean the same thing?

I could agree with you for a second. But giving it a second thought, there are a few differences between them that we would be pointing out soon, let’s get to it.

What is an electronic signature?

Let’s first have clarity on what an Online Signature is. For this one, there is no difference between an Online Signature and an electronic signature. They can be used interchangeably but in most cases, the right one to use is an electronic signature. Getting that out of the way now let’s talk about the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature.

Before we dive into what an electronic signature really is, we should first understand what really is a signature. A signature is “a person’s name written in a distinctive way or a mark representing it as a form of identification in authorizing a cheque or document or concluding a letter”. 

An electronic signature according to the eIDAS regulation is defined as “data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign”.

To elaborate on that, an electronic signature is the equivalent of someone signing a paper document. It’s a method of entering into a legal agreement in a digital/electronic environment. Signing an agreement can be as easy as creating an electronic signature when signing an electronic document by clicking a button, typing your name, or drawing your signature with a mouse, touchpad, or other input devices.

Benefits of Electronic Signatures

Electronic signatures have myriad benefits. They make signing contracts or closing deals faster and easier compared to traditional paper signatures. Save time and money by avoiding the need to print, sign and scan your document. 

Here are some cases where people use UsefulSign to gather electronic signatures:

Are electronic signatures legally binding?

Electronic signatures are legally binding. They carry the same weight as your traditional pen and paper signatures. Many countries around the world are adopting specific legislation that elevates electronic signatures to the same standard as wet signatures. In the United States, the relevant act is called Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000 (ESIGN). This is further supplemented by the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).

Other countries have their own legislation but the end result is the same. Electronic signatures can be used for most transactions that require a wet signature.

To know more about the legality of electronic signatures, read more here on eSignature Legality.

What is a Digital Signature?

A digital signature is a secured method of ensuring the integrity of a digital document. A digital signature is issued by a certificate issuing authority, this is because a digital signature is like a fingerprint of a document and as such, no two documents should have the same fingerprint. 

UsefulSign uses a digital signature to make sure your electronic signature signed document is tamper-evident by using a digital certificate issued by a certificate signing authority. The process generates an audit trail, which actually provides details on every step taken to sign the document.

Conclusion

The spotlight difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature is that a digital signature makes an electronic signature signed document authentic and tamper-evident. An electronic signature is evidence of a signer’s consent while a digital signature is evidence that the document signed is authentic.