4 Predictions for European E-Signature Adoption

published on E-signature technology, Legal Technology
While Europe might be ahead of the US when it comes to fashion, the same thing cannot be said for e-signatures. The continent is slow to adopt the fast-growing technology, hindered by inconsistent legislation and a fragmented regulatory system. There does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel, however. In July 2014, the European Parliament and Council passed legislation on electronic identification that helped to bolster the framework surrounding e-signatures. Thanks to the clarity and region-wide applicability of the legislation – along with the implementation of mobile technology – it will help increase adoption. To get a picture of what the future for e-signatures might look like, a brief from Forrester Research shares four predictions that will drive the European e-signature market. Effacts-Blog-4-Predictions-for-Esignature-Adoption-in-Europe Before delving into the four predictions for the European e-signature market, it is useful to make a distinction between the different types of electronic signature:
  • Electronic signature. Where data in electronic form which is attached or logically associated with other electronic data, serve as a method of authentication.
  • Advanced electronic signature. This type of electronic signature meets four standards: it is exclusively connected to the signatory, can be traced back to the signatory, is created in a way that only the signatory controls, and all changes are detectable and traceable.
  • Advanced electronic signature based on a qualified certificate. This type of signature must meet two standards: it is created by a secure-signature-creation device, and it must adhere to technical standards that ensure the key can neither be forced nor reproduced.

Prediction 1: Europe will follow the US In accepting electronic signatures

Organizations in the US have adopted the electronic signature, focusing on reducing paper and improving customer experience. Europe will follow a similar pattern thanks to:
  • The new EU regulation that promotes the approval of an e-signature from another country.
  • The acceptance of e-signatures by Germany, a primary economy.
  • A greater focus on improving the customer experience.

Prediction 2: Europe will differ from the US on Trust Service Providers (TSPs), Biometrics, Tablets, and Public Key Interfaces

There will be distinct differences in Europe in terms of government involvement, signature capture, and authentication.
  • Trust services providers (help to identify people electronically through authentication procedures, digital certificates, and e-signatures), appointed by the government will continue to exist but may not extensively be used.
  • Spanish banks will see more success with their simple biometric approach, which captures the image of the signature itself in addition to pen pressure and hand speed, resulting in a satisfying customer experience.
  • Tablet signature will be ahead of the US.
  • Public key infrastructure will be the preferred security option but knowledge-based authentication will struggle. Data privacy laws in Europe restrict the use of third-party databases needed for knowledge-based authentication, which asks users personal questions before granting them access. Public key infrastructure uses encryption at different stages to certify biometric information, uniquely “hash” the document with the electronic evidence, or seal the document (such as in PDF format, so it cannot be edited).

Prediction 3: Authentication Will Center on the Mobile Device

Forrester forecasts that Western European consumers’ mobile payments will see a compound annual growth rate of almost 24% over the next five years; online sales and mobile and tablet commerce will increase from €26 billion in 2013 to €142 billion by the end of 2018.
  • E-signature authentication will be closely integrated with mobile devices.
  • More advanced biometrics will be introduced soon, that most likely make use of advanced electronic signatures.

Prediction 4: E-signature providers will experience increased revenue from Europe in 2016

US-based organizations contribute to the majority of e-signature providers’’ revenues, customers, and growth.
  • Leading e-signature vendors will set up European data centers.
  • Vendors will increase support for advanced signatures based on qualified certificates.
  • Countries in Asia Pacific will lag behind both Europe and the United States in e-signature adoption. For instance, the legal framework in China creates barriers to e-signatures, since many financial transactions require a physical verification of the signature.
While conducting business across international borders is becoming easier, regulatory developments of e-signatures in the European Union will encourage adoption in the years to come. Organizations tend to get caught up in meeting a formality of the law, but they should keep in mind that the sole purpose of an e-signature is that it acts as evidence to support a business transaction.

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