Most aspects of our lives are moving online. Today you can do your shopping, chat to your friends across the globe, log into work and do your banking without even leaving the comfort of your living room.
And similarly, while applying for a loan once meant having to go and sit in a bank filling in form after form, you can now get your hands on the cash you need to pay for your home improvements, holiday of a lifetime or new car by applying online.
What is an E-signature?
But if you’re applying online, how will you sign on the dotted line to acknowledge that you agree to all the terms and conditions of your loan?
Today, many companies including Hitachi Personal Finance, rely on electronic signatures, or digital signatures, which are basically any electronic means by which a person shows that they consent to an agreement, and digitally signs it. This could be simply checking an ‘I accept box’, typing their name, inputting a PIN number or security code or using a special electronic version of an individual’s signature which has been created by a specialist service provider.
The benefits to digital signatures
With many people’s lives becoming increasingly manic, the main benefit of the E-signature is that it is convenient and time effective. It cuts down on paperwork significantly and means that people can fill in applications for financial products such as loans easily from home, where they can have all the information they may need to hand, like past pay slips, in a matter of minutes.
For example, Hitachi Personal Finance’s E-signature option means that if you are approved for a loan, the money could be in your account within 2 working days.
If all of the ‘paperwork’ to do with a transaction is online, it is also much easier to store and track than physical copies, meaning applications are processed quickly and efficiently.
E-signatures can actually help enhance security.
If a loan application has to be printed out and either scanned and emailed, faxed or posted, it could lead to copies being mislaid, lost or stolen, while there is still no way for the loan provider to verify whether it was actually the person supposed to be signing the document who put pen to paper.
If documents are ‘signed’ and sent online, it also means that it’s easy to get proof that they were transmitted, and at exactly what time and date. Many systems will also be able to identify which computer the document was sent from if any disputes did arise.
Remember: An E-Signature is a real signature
Just because you are not putting pen to paper when you sign a document online, doesn’t mean that you aren’t making a legal commitment. Even if you simply click a box indicating that you wish to sign a credit agreement or other contract, it is still legally binding.
In the UK, the Electronic Communications Act 2000 states that electronic signatures are admissible as evidence in court if any question about the authenticity of data arises.
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