2020 has been a year of life-altering changes. With physical interaction being taken off the menu and everyone working from home, our days are packed with Zoom calls, Slack chats, and Insta Live sessions. Even as people start returning to work, this new ‘touchless’ reality has cemented itself as the norm; due to ongoing concerns about viral transmission and the momentum behind these new daily habits, health and hygiene are expected to remain a top priority moving forward.
It’s not surprising, then, that 2020 will go down as the year people bid farewell to the age-old practice of signing documents by hand. Instead, it’s time for electronic signatures, or eSignatures, to shine.
According to recent data, their ascent has already begun: the eSignature market is expected to grow to $8 billion by 2023. The larger market shift towards digital tools and cloud software will further accelerate the global adoption of eSignatures, making it the de facto way to sign and send important documents.
To help small and medium-sized businesses stay ahead of the curve, we’re breaking down the top five online document signing trends to look out for this year and beyond:
Historically, crises have accelerated the pace of innovation and tech adoption. For instance, the aversion to touching communal surfaces during the SARS pandemic (2002-2004) helped establish e-retail in China. A few years later, the economic slump that followed the subprime crisis (2008) led to the creation of the sharing economy (i.e. Uber and Airbnb). COVID-19 will be no different: we are seeing businesses of all sizes adopting modern solutions for document signing, remote collaboration, video conferencing, and messaging. It’s a sink or swim moment, and only those who adapt will continue to thrive.
Remote document processing will no longer be exclusive to high-tech companies – it will be a requirement for businesses of all kinds. eSignatures will become ubiquitous across industries and business verticals, from accounting, finance, insurance, and law to real estate, human resources, education, and healthcare.
Thanks to advancements in conversational AI, users will also soon be able to search and extract information from documents, videos, and images by simply chatting with a Digital Transaction Management (DTM) solution.
According to a study conducted by Stanford University, productivity is likely to take a hit when people work remotely. But it doesn’t always have to. Future-forward companies will agree that embracing ground-breaking innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), is one of the best ways to dodge the ‘efficiency-slump’ bullet.
Imagine a document bot that could help users automatically create contracts and other legal documents. This takes away the manual drudgery of paperwork and in fact, according to Aragon research, there is a 70% chance that this futuristic concept will transition into reality by 2022.
With an eye on enabling businesses to put the documentation workflow on autopilot, businesses will soon be able to refocus employees’ time on to the more mission-critical tasks.
In response to COVID-19, Melbourne’s Avalon airport recently implemented touchless self-service for passengers. Bag drop stations are using facial recognition to identify and match passengers to their luggage, and passports are being screened from a distance, which will be especially important in the post-COVID world.
Across various sectors, businesses are tapping into advanced biometric technology like facial recognition for its ability to offer contact-free, frictionless, secure data validation. In the eSignature space, SignEasy has already enabled multi-factor authentication for signers via facial recognition (Face ID) and fingerprint (Touch ID). The expectation is that many other digital workflows and tools will follow the same path by integrating contactless and biometric security features in the near future.
Several fintech startups, including Squareup and Kabbage, have already started using eSignatures to seamlessly obtain stakeholder consent for documents like payment authorizations and transaction receipts. This type of digital workflow is important for time-sensitive processes like emergency or instant lending.
By making it possible to complete online transactions in the blink of an eye, eSignatures also reduce customer acquisition costs and the lead-to-win time frame for sales teams. Businesses and their sales teams can secure a sale at the point of initial customer interest, or at the peak of interest.
It’s not just fintech that can benefit from this approach, though. Online retail and SaaS services are using APIs to integrate eSignature tools into their payment flows and other line-of-business (LOB) platforms. This will be a game-changer for many types of businesses and their employees, and a big win for customers.
eSignatures at an Inflection Point
As with many other software solutions, we are at an inflection point for eSignatures that will forever change how we conduct important transactions. The world was already moving in this direction, with companies embracing contactless tools, remote teams, and mobile workflows – but the COVID crisis has proven to be the catalyst for turning eSignature solutions into a must-have for businesses big and small.