Friday, July 5, 2013

The Almighty Signature, Last Stand for Paper Forms

Hubby and I have spent the past month preparing to move from Grande Cache back to Edmonton. There's a lot of paperwork from here to there, as we put our home on the market. Living in so remote a location, real estate forms, financial applications, rent applications, and leases all had to be done online. I have over an inch of paper generated in the past month just to get through this.

 The bugbear is the requirement for a signature.

This back-and-forth necessitated the printing and re-scanning of the forms multiple times, the quality degrading through each pass-through. How can integrity be maintained if the document is no longer readable?

 The process was so painful I was wondering if I might help industry take the leap to e-signature. Electronic transactions are legal, most governments having some form of electronic transactions legislation to ease the way for commerce. The process, however, must be proven confidential, secure, and valid. There must be some sort of validation to confirm that the Jane Doe signing is truly Jane. The signing must be password protected, and the transmission encrypted. Privacy watchdogs must be reassured that the identifying information and passwords are protected from loss or misuse.

I believe also there is public hesitation to trust an online process with their signature.

The potential benefits outweigh the risks, in my opinion, as society greens up, and is switching to electronic media wherever possible. Paper elimination saves trees.Crossing this final hurdle of e-signature could finally move offices to paper-free.

I was pleasantly surprised to find in my final transaction, a property management company that uses an online signature service. I initialed and forwarded my final forms completely online. The service is docusign, and it gets an excellent rating from PC magazine. A similar product for comparison is RPost Office. With several products out there, it is time to make the move to e-signature.


As a post-script, I followed up this blog with an e-mail to the Alberta Real Estate Association, and I received a prompt and thorough reply. The ARCA has been hampered by legislation, specifically the Statute of Frauds and the Real Estate Act of Alberta, which requires "wet" signatures. Changes are in the works and the ARCA will be publishing forms that allow for e-signatures this September.