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Contract scanning vs. Autenti electronic signature – what are the differences to be kept in mind?

Contract scanning belongs to the group of very common practices associated with signing documents. Many times we have encountered with that when a contractor sends us a contract by e-mail asking us to print, sign and send its signed scan back. This operation – although it is intended to speed up the workflow of documents – comes with certain drawbacks and risks. Below you will find some of its drawbacks and reveal how they are overcome by the Autenti electronic signature.

Contract scanning and Autenti electronic signature – comparison of selected functions
Almost every type of contract can be concluded electronically. Not only by using the e-signature, but also by accepting the terms and conditions or sending the approval of such a contract by e-mail (depending on the type of contract to be concluded). A contract scan as well as an e-mail in which this scan is an attachment are also treated as documents. This does not mean, however, that this contract is binding.

May a contract scan be treated as a proof of its conclusion?

In order for a scan of any signed agreement to be binding, it must be demonstrated that the other party has agreed to the conclusion of this agreement in a document form and that the person authorised to conclude it uses the e-mail from which the message was sent (learn more on the forms of legal operations). In accordance with Article 77 of the Civil Code:
In order to keep the document form of a legal operation, it is sufficient to submit a declaration of will in the form of a document in a manner which allows to identify the person making this declaration.
Please note that not only text files, pdfs or contract scans are treated as documents. Any information carrier which enables getting acquainted with this information is treated as a document. E-mails or sound files are also documents. An e-mail with a scanned contract attached is also a document.

By making use of the Autenti electronic signature, you get the confirmation that a given contract was concluded with the relevant persons and the time of its conclusion in the form of the Autenti Certificate. The certificate also guarantees that all signers have signed the same document. Moreover, the use of the Autenti qualified electronic signature allows to keep the electronic form.

Are you sure that a given document has been signed by the right person?

Contracts are concluded between individuals (representing companies, organisations or themselves as natural persons). In terms of their validity, it is critical that the authorised and competent persons sign them. Therefore, it is so relevant to verify the identity of such signers.

In the case of a scan, the identity can be verified using the e-mail address, content or footer of the message from which this scan was sent to you. This information may fulfil the requirements of electronic signature in accordance with the eIDAS Regulation and render the document thus signed valid. As far as the person who sends us a scanned contract by e-mail is authorised to sign it. However, it often happens that the person contacted at the contractor’s is not the owner, for example, but his/her employee, who is not entitled to sign documents, but only acts as an intermediary in the process.

Methods of identity verification at the Autenti platform:

Verification via e-mail address

The Autenti platform enables to verify the identity using numerous methods. The simplest and most frequently used method is to send a given document for signature to a specific e-mail address being available to the person authorised to sign it. An individual e-mail address is commonly used in companies, so you can determine with a high degree of certainty who has signed this or that document.

Verification via SMS code

An additional method of identity verification is to provide a one-off SMS code by the signer. A SMS code is sent to the telephone number specified when sending the document. Usually just one person uses a given mobile phone number, so making use of this method in combination with the e-mail verification ensures that the right person signs the document.

Logging into the banking system and video-verification

Another method to verify a given signer is to log in to the banking system. Upon successful logging into the bank, he/she confirms the identity of the signer. Verification may also be made by means of a video call, during which data from the identity card or passport is compared with the person making the call.

Are you sure that the contents of a given scan have not been changed?

The integrity of documents is very important for the conclusion of contracts electronically. Such document integrity is understood as a guarantee that no data has been altered in any unauthorised manner. There is no guarantee of this kind in the case of a scanned document stored as an e-mail attachment. There is a risk that such a file may be damaged or altered.

Autenti certificate guarantees the integrity of signed documents.

To each and every signed document the Autenti system assigns a Certificate which guarantees its integrity. The Certificate ensures that each signer has signed the same document and that no changes have been made since the Autenti Certificate was granted. This, combined with the encrypted Autenti archive, fulfils the requirements of “a durable carrier”.

Where do you store your scanned signed contracts?

It is often the case that your e-mail box is the only archive of scanned contracts. This solution does not allow for the effective search or classification of contracts. It is also hazardous when messages are not backed up.

Encrypted Autenti archive protects against the loss of signed documents

In the case of Autenti, each user is provided with an encrypted archive available upon logging into the system. This archive stores all user’s signed contracts. With the application of the cloud solution, the risk of losing any documents is almost zero. Its search feature also makes it easy to find any specific contracts. It is also possible to save any signed documents on his/her own disk in the cloud.

How long does it take to sign a contract?

Sending a scanned signed agreement is primarily aimed at speeding up the process of its conclusion and performance. In fact, this is not the case. Since a scan itself does not constitute a proof of any contract concluded, you should also send its original by post or courier to your contractor and obtain your own original signed document back. It happens that our contractor will not send it immediately and you must ask for it for a long time. In addition, there is the issue of costs of this process – document print-out, use of equipment, shipping costs and lost time.

In Autenti documents may be signed at any time and place

Using the Autenti platform, a given document is available for signature immediately, on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Thanks to our e-signature you can significantly shorten the time of signing documents and fully automate the process (check out how Work Service has reduced the time of signing contracts for a specific work and ordering by 70%).

While scanning contracts undoubtedly has some benefits, there are also some risks involved and must be borne in mind. Your awareness of its drawbacks and knowledge on alternative solutions, which may be the application of Autenti electronic signature, will allow you to effectively implement your signed contracts.