What is the Difference between an Electronic Signature and a Digital Signature?

These heavy terminologies can leave you a tad bit confused if you have just started learning about Online Signatures. Most people use the terms ‘digital signature’ and ‘electronic signature’ for the same purpose but you must know that they are different from each other. Knowing the difference between the two is important so that we can use them appropriately.

Many companies and organisations have been emphasising on efficiently managing documents. Advanced Tools like the digital signature Certificates and Softwares are an investment by these companies to ensure highest security, control and compliance for their businesses.

The modern Marketplace uses both electronic and digital signatures to enable a smart and secure transaction.

Now, if this makes you think about the pros and cons of a digital and electronic signature, we have made the comparison easy to understand and apply in this very blog.

Digital Signatures

A digital signature is actually a Type of Electronic Signature.

Digital Signatures offer high security. Signing a document with a digital signature results in linking your personal identity with the fingerprint of the document. To make this possible the signer of the document needs to have an Authentic Digital Signature Certificate to prove their authenticity. 

A Digital signature is embedded with the information; hence the users don’t need to verify it with their vendors or with their online merchants for verification. 

The Prime Reason why most of the countries around the world accept digital signatures is because they are in compliance with the international Security standards.

Electronic Signatures

Electronic Signatures can either be a particular symbol, sound, or a process that is considered as a record executed by a person to sign the record/document. An electronically signed document is a legal and binding. Electronic signatures include scanned signatures and electronic ticks. 

However, unlike Digital Signatures, Electronic Signatures do not have any universal standard. The vendors can have their own type of Electronic Signature and the authorisation for the same is accepted verbally.

The Difference Between Digital and Electronic Signature
Digital Signature

Electronic Signature
PurposeCompletely secures a document.
Provides access only to the authorized person. Prevents the tampering of the document.
Simply verifies a document. 
Helps identify the authors and the source of a document. Considered as a 100% legal binding process . Uses acknowledgment, recorded legal, selected checkbox or a keystroke as authorisation.
High level of embedded security. 
Mostly preferred by e-commerce dealers, merchants, and vendors . They are time-stamped, (provides the time at which the document was signed)
Doesn’t provide high security. No definite validation process
Completely regulated and authorized by certain compliance authorities. Trusted third parties authenticate the signatureQuestionable Authority as many electronic signatures are not regulated Tampering the electronic signature is possible
To completely secure a document. Unauthorized people shouldn’t Tamper with the Signature.  Guarantees full tracking of the Sign to the owner of the document.Verifies the identity of the person signing the document with the statement of a legally binding contract.
Type of Signature
Adobe PDF MicrosoftA scanned signature Ticked box Verbal recording
Authentication MechanismCertificate-based digital ID authentication process.Signer’s email ID  PIN  Phone, etc.

As we live in the technological age where we commonly send documents digitally, the knowledge about online signatures is important. Knowing the difference between the terms used for similar processes is of importance as well.

Electronic and Digital Signatures usually serve a similar purpose i.e., for online transactions and documentation. There is no competition between which one is the best, but we must know their application for our specific requirements.

For Businesses, investing into a thorough document management can ease the process of storing, editing, transferring and securing of digital documents.

There are companies in India such as Sai Digital Signature that create Digital Signatures Certificates for Companies, all within the parameters of the International Standards.

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