Electronic signature vs. qualified signature – what you should know
Qualified electronic signature is used today by 600 thousand. Poles. Its importance increased during the pandemic and – as with other digital services – it’s hard to imagine business everyday life without it.
The development of digital services is a resultant of the maturity of solutions, user awareness and market applications of the service. And the right timing with the service. No wonder, then, that the number of trusted profiles increased from 1.3 million in 2018 to 11 million in May 2021. Today, it is used by 40% of. of adult Poles. The trusted profile can be set up quickly via e-banking. The service was at your fingertips, but its benefits millions of Poles learned only in the pandemic, when offices reduced work. It should be noted, however, that the trusted profile is used only for official purposes. In business it is necessary to use a qualified signature.
In Poland, a certain form of electronic signature service has been available since 1999. At the beginning e-signatures were used mainly by ZUS payers who sent documents electronically. The Electronic Signature Act, which regulates trust services, came into force in 2002. From 2016. The EU’s eIDAS regulation, which unifies the European e-signature market, is in force. This means that a qualified electronic signature issued in one EU country is valid in the whole EU.
Currently there are three types of electronic signatures: simple, advanced and qualified. An ordinary (non-qualified) electronic signature contains basic information about the signatory, such as name, surname and email address. It can be used in the circulation of electronic documents, but not in every case. Advanced signature gives more possibilities and apart from basic data it also includes PESEL number, ID card number and citizenship information. It is used in official matters, but cannot be used e.g. to sign a business contract. The only electronic signature that has the same legal effect as a handwritten signature is a qualified signature, which is issued by authorized entities.
– New services are replacing old habits and time-consuming methods. The situation on the market of e-signatures is starting to develop in the same way today – says Łukasz Konikiewicz, CEO of EuroCert, one of the five companies in Poland holding the status of a qualified provider of trust services. – Whoever used this service understands how it simplifies and automates work. A qualified electronic signature has the same legal force in the circulation of electronic documents as a handwritten signature. Its value and potential we could appreciate during the pandemic. You can sign a number of documents at one time while working remotely from home.
The most commonly electronically signed documents are annual accounts, employee files, financial documents and powers of attorney. Owners of a qualified signature use it more than 20 times a month – report “Trusted economy in the new reality” by Deloitte Legal.
Digital services mature along with their users
Before 2010. iPad appeared in the market, its prototype was offered in 2001 by Microsoft, later by Lenovo, Fujitsu or HP. But users did not need a non-functional tablet with a stylus. iPad enters the market when smartphone customers already know the advantages of a touch screen and an application store. Every product or service has its own phase of development, maturation and growth. And its dynamics.
The fact that Poland is now among the world’s leading countries using e-banking or mobile services is a result of the range of banking services offered, convenient forms of payment and two decades of development of the electronic payments market. In 1998, the era of Internet banking began in Poland. After 10 years the service was used by more than 5 million people. By the third quarter of 2021. The number of active customers amounted to over 20 million people. Thanks to e-banking, you don’t have to worry about the time wasted queuing at the counter to make a transfer. Everything is done remotely, within a few moments – also in business. In the segment of SME clients, 2.1 million users actively use Internet banking. Does a similar perspective apply to the development of trust services, in particular e-signature?
In 2021, the electronic signing of documents was used by 26 percent. Poles, two percentage points more than a year before. The solution is most willingly used by people from the youngest group of respondents (every third person aged 18-34). Importantly, as many as one-third of Poles are ready to use this service in the future. There is also growing interest in signing contracts remotely. This year as many as 19 percent of Poles took advantage of this opportunity. Poles, two percentage points more than a year earlier – according to the recent Blue Media report “Poles’ finances in times of pandemic”.
A qualified signature made with the use of a qualified certificate enables unambiguous identification of a natural person. It opens the way to handle official matters, to conclude fully fledged remote contracts or to participate in electronic auctions on tender platforms. Until now, it was stored almost exclusively on a cryptographic device, consisting of a reader and a card, which makes it impossible to copy. However, new and much more convenient remote solutions are emerging.
SIGNIUS together with EuroCert have launched a solution allowing fully remote acquisition and creation of a qualified signature. Everything is done without the need for physical identity verification, cards and readers, during one online process – on the SIGNIUS Professional platform. A qualified certificate is issued remotely on the basis of a certified video-verification of the user.
– The timing of adoption of new services has its dynamics, but the pandemic has proven to be a unique growth spurt. Qualified electronic signature is a solution that has proven to work well for remote work or distributed teams. The increase in confidence in e-signature has provoked a change in thinking about processes and value creation in organizations – says Jacek Piekarski, CEO of SIGNIUS S.A. – Responding to the market needs, together with EuroCert we introduced a service allowing remote use of a qualified signature, which can be accessed within a few minutes.
What this means in practice? The service enables fully remote acquisition and creation of a qualified signature. A person ordering documents for e-signature may also pay for qualified signatures of his signatories (including confirmation of their identity). This makes it possible to conclude agreements more quickly, which translates, among other things, into increased sales conversions. The feature streamlines many business processes, and all signers have online access to the documents they sign. Thanks to compliance with the EU eIDAS regulation, the service is fully valid throughout the European Union and the signature can be created from anywhere in the world.