11 min

Scanning contracts vs Autenti electronic signature – what differences do you need to keep in mind?

One of the very common practices related to document signing is contract scanning. We're certain that you have all faced a situation where a contractor sends you a contract by email asking you to print it, sign it and returned a scanned copy to them. Although such action is intended to speed up the process of document flow, it is associated with certain drawbacks and risks. Here are some of the disadvantages and how the Autenti electronic signature overcomes them.

Scanning contracts and Autenti electronic signature - comparison of selected possibilities

Almost any type of contract can be concluded electronically. Not only thanks to the use of an e-signature, but also thanks to the acceptance of the terms and conditions, or sending contract acceptance by email (depending on the type of contract that is concluded). Contract scan and the email in which the scan is an attachment, also constitute documents. However, this does not mean that the contract is binding.

We distinguished several key properties that distinguish contract scanning and electronic signature. They relate to the security, convenience and duration of the signing process as well as the document itself. We describe the individual properties in more detail below.

Selected property Scanning contracts Signing a document with the Autenti electronic signature
Evidencing conclusion of the contract It must be shown that the other party:a) consented to the conclusion of the contract in document form;b) the other party uses the email from which the scan of the document was sent. Possibility to use the confirmation of signing the document by Autenti
Verification of the signing person ✗ - especially if the email address is from an unknown or free domain ✓ - including by IP address, email or text message. Additional verification options include logging into a bank account, video verification and more.
Data security level Low In the banking standard
Risk of changing the content of the document during signing High None
Risk of losing a document in the process High Low
Easy access to signed documents thanks to the availability of an archive
Automation of the signing process
Determining how to approve the document before signing it Not a part of the process (the party organizes the approval process internally, regardless of communication with the other party and how the document is signed) AS part of the process (possibility of creating an automated workflow)
Easy access to the history of the document signing process
Required equipment Printer, scanner or camera and computer Computer, tablet or smartphone

Is a contract scan a proof of its conclusion?

In order for a scan of the signed contract to be considered binding, it must be shown that the other party has expressed consent to conclude a contract in document form, and that the person authorized to conclude it uses the email address from which the message was sent (learn more about forms of legal activities). Pursuant to Article 77 of the Civil Code:

To maintain the document form of a legal transaction, it is sufficient to submit a declaration of will in the form of a document in a manner enabling the determination of the person submitting the declaration.

Keep in mind that not only a text file, pdf file or a scan of a contract all constitute documents. A document is any information carrier that makes it possible to read this information. An email or a sound file are also documents. An email with a scan of a contract attached is also a document.

Thanks to the use of the Autenti electronic signature, you can be certain that a contract has been concluded with the appropriate persons as well as the time of its conclusion in the form of the Autenti Certificate. The certificate also guarantees that all signing parties have signed the same document. Additionally, the use of a qualified electronic signature in Autenti makes it possible to maintain the electronic form.

Are you sure that the right person has signed the document?

Contracts with business partners are concluded between specific persons (representing enterprises, organizations or themselves as natural persons). From the point of view of contract validity, it is critical that authorized and competent people sign them. That is why it is so important to verify the identity of the people signing the document.

In the case of a scan, the email address, content or footer of the message from which the scan was sent to you may be used as identity verification. This information can meet the electronic signature requirements of the eIDAS regulation, and make the document signed this way binding. As long as the person who sends you a scan of the contract by email is authorized to sign it. Nevertheless, it often happens that the contact person at the business partner is not, for example, the owner, but an employee, who does not sign the document, but merely acts as an intermediary in the process.

Autenti identity verification methods

Verification via email address

Autenti makes it possible to verify your identity in multiple ways. The simplest and most frequently used one is sending the document for signature to a specific email address, which is used by the person authorized to sign a given document. An individual email address is common in companies, so you can be confident in identifying who signed the document.

Verification via a text message code

An additional method of identity verification is to provide a one-time code sent via a text message. The text message is sent to the telephone number indicated when sending the document. Usually, a given mobile number is owned by one person, so using this method in combination with email verification ensures that the right person signs the document.

Logging into the banking system and video verification

Another method of verifying the signing person is the requirement to log into their banking system. After successful logging into the bank, the identity of the signing person is confirmed. Verification can also take place via video, during which data specified on a personal ID or passport is compared with the person making the call.

Are you sure the content of the scan has not been changed?

From the point of view of concluding contracts electronically, the integrity of the document is very important. By document integrity it should be understood that there is a guarantee that no data has been changed in an unauthorized way. There is no such guarantee for a scanned document stored as an email attachment. There is also a risk that such a file may be damaged or changed.

The Autenti certificate guarantees the integrity of the signed document

Autenti assigns a Certificate to each document signed, which guarantees integrity of this document. The certificate ensures that each signatory has signed the same document and that no changes have been made to it since the Autenti Certificate was assigned. This is combined with the encrypted Autenti archive meets the requirements of a "permanent medium".

Where do you store signed scanned contracts?

It usually happens, that the only archive of scanned contracts is the email inbox. This solution does not allow for efficient searching or cataloguing of contracts. It is also dangerous in the absence of a backup of your messages.

The Autenti encrypted archive protects against the loss of signed documents

Each Autenti user receives an encrypted archive available after logging into the website. All signed user contracts are stored in the archive. The use of a cloud service provides assurance that the risk of losing documents is almost non-existent. The search option also makes it possible to easily find specific contracts. You can also save signed documents on your own cloud drive.

How long does it take to sign a contract?

Sending a signed scan of the contract is primarily intended to speed up the process of its conclusion and implementation. In reality, this is not the case. As the scan itself is not a proof of concluding a contract, the original of the contract should also be sent by post or courier to the business partner and after they sign it, they need to return it. It may happen, that the signed contract is not returned immediately and it is necessary to ask for it for a long time. The cost of such a process is also a disadvantage: document printing, equipment consumption, shipping costs and time wasted.

Documents can be signed by Autenti at any time and place

Using the Autenti platform, the document is available for signature immediately, on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Our e-signature makes it possible to significantly reduce the time it takes to sign the document and fully automate the process.

Although scanning contracts undoubtedly brings some benefits, you should also keep in mind the risks associated with it. Being aware of the disadvantages and knowing an alternative, which can be the use of the Autenti electronic signature, will allow you to effectively enforce signed contracts.