Wet signatures have long been the established method of signing key documents, agreements, and more. But they’re far from the most efficient way to get things done. Electronic signatures are often faster, more secure, and offer greater flexibility.
But which one is right for your business? In this blog, We’ve take a detailed look at the key differences, so you can decide which method works for you.
What is a wet signature?
A wet signature is your traditional pen-and-ink method of signing. It’s a unique, handwritten mark of approval on a hard copy of a document, form, or contract. For years, wet signatures have represented a binding contract between two parties.
But times are changing, and now, wet signatures are rarely used—and only legally required in rare instances. Instead, electronic signatures have taken over as one of the fastest and easiest ways to sign key documents. In most cases, eSignatures can replace wet signatures—as they carry the same weight—and are as legal as their traditional handwritten counterparts.
The drawbacks of wet signatures
When it comes to wet signatures, there are a few major drawbacks to be aware of.
Slow turnaround time
Firstly, turnaround times can be incredibly slow. Once you’ve printed off your document and sent it out for signature, you’ll likely be left twiddling your thumbs while you wait for it to get back to you.
With no way to track what you’ve sent, it can be hard to give accurate estimates on when contracts and agreements will be completed. And if a document is lost or misplaced, in the meantime, you’ll have to repeat the process all over again.
Another big problem with wet signatures is security.
If physical documents are left lying around, they can quickly end up in the hands of the wrong person. Accidents happen, and if a document is filed incorrectly, sensitive information can be unwittingly leaked, leaving your business vulnerable.
Additionally, without document protection, wet signatures are also at a higher risk of being forged, tampered with, or copied without the owner’s knowledge—which can be costly.
If you get through a large volume of contracts, agreements, forms, or any other type of document—then things can get expensive fast.
But it’s not just the cost of ink, paper, and delivery.
Unnecessary admin can put a sizeable dent in any businesses’ budget. If staff spend all their time sorting through paperwork, they have less time to focus on driving new business or providing a great experience for existing customers.
When should you use a wet signature?
While eSignatures can replace wet signatures in the vast majority of cases, there are a select few instances where a wet signature is necessary to make a document legally binding. These can include documents relating to:
- Court orders
- Insurance benefits
- Certain bank loans
- Verifying identity to Notary Public
Some old-fashioned companies may also insist on signing with a wet signature—but given the numerous advantages of eSignatures—it shouldn’t take much to convince them otherwise.
What is an electronic signature?
If you’ve experienced any of the issues mentioned above, you should consider adopting an electronic signature solution. Electronic signatures, or eSignatures, let people sign documents online, instead of having to print and sign documents manually with a pen and paper.
Just like wet signatures, eSignatures are unique to each signer and are recognized as legally binding in many countries across the world. Plus, because documents are signed electronically, with the right solution, you can authenticate, track, and store signatures and signer information at every stage of the contract lifecycle.
The advantages of eSignatures
Here are just a few of the benefits of using eSignatures in your workflows.
Efficiency and speed
One key benefit that sets electronic signatures apart from wet signatures, is speed.
With eSignatures, agreements are started and completed around 80% faster. Instead of wasting time printing out a document, signing it, and scanning or mailing it out, you or your recipients can fill it out in seconds. And when you’re more efficient, you stand to save time and money.
So, whether it’s onboarding a new client, filling out a sales agreement, or sending out a contract, you can stay productive and get things done faster.
Secure and tamper-proof
Many eSignature solutions come equipped with a time-stamped, non-editable audit trail that captures information like document history, signer details, and more.
This means it’s easy to see if a document has been tampered with or modified without the signer’s knowledge. Plus, you can store all your documents digitally, which keeps them safe and away from any prying eyes.
Some eSignature solutions, like Dropbox Sign, take this a step further and store your documents behind an encrypted firewall, so it’s nearly impossible for unauthorized users to gain access.
Physically signing contracts was always inefficient. But now, with the rise of remote work spreading people out across the world, it’s become even trickier.
With eSignatures, you or your clients can sign anytime, anywhere. Regardless of where you choose to set up shop, you can continue bringing in new customers, onboarding employees, and more. So you never miss a beat.
It’s time to make the switch to eSignatures
If you’re tired of drowning in paperwork or waiting days for contracts to be signed then implementing eSignatures is a no-brainer.
See how Dropbox Sign can take your signing experience to the next level. Learn more.