The increasing use of qualified signature
The Digital Signature market, according to the market study carried out by Markets & Markets, has been experiencing annual growth of 35.7% since 2022 and forecasts stable growth until 2027. This rapid growth is due to multiple factors, for example, the need for companies to adopt paperless solutions to reduce their carbon footprint in favor of climate change or the necessity that COVID-19 revealed for reliable remote processes that facilitate and secure digital transactions.
However, not all signatures are the same, nor do they generate the same probative legal effect. The reality is that most of the signatures used are lacking in legal representation for the formal nature of the document to be signed.
All the factors driving the growth of the digital signature market share a common denominator, the need to guarantee digital identity during electronic transactions to eradicate fraud, such as identity theft or Phishing.
The regulatory framework
The growing demand for digital signature solutions has forced governments from different territories to create a new regulatory environment. In Europe, we find eIDAS regulation, in force since 2014, which establishes the regulating standards for electronic identification and trust services among the country members of the EU.
eIDAS recognizes 3 types of electronic signatures, simple, advanced, and qualified. Still, only the qualified signature offers the highest level of security, equaling the handwritten signature in terms of its legal validity. The qualified signature guarantees the signer’s identity and the integrity of the signed electronic document.
The eIDAS regulation, in its article 3.16, defines electronic trust services for creating, verifying, and validating electronic signatures, time stamps, and electronic certificates and confirms that only providers approved by the corresponding supervisory bodies can offer trust services.
Within the Trust Service Provider (TSP), there are qualified or unqualified ones. However, only Qualified Trust Services Provider (QTSP), such as Víntegris, can offer qualified signatures.
Both the EU and the Government of Spain publish a list with the set of certified companies (TSL), which allows anyone to directly check the validity and approval status of each service and provider.
Qualified signature and its benefits
The use of qualified signature has increased recently thanks to its many benefits in terms of security, authenticity, reliability, ease of use, and the low cost of electronic signature technologies.
- Legal effects
The legal effect of the qualified signature is significant, since it is considered a legally valid proof of the authenticity and integrity of the signed document.
One of the main legal effects produced by using the qualified signature is the reversal of the burden of proof. Instead of having to prove that an electronic document is authentic and has been signed by the person claiming to have signed it, the burden of proof is shifted to the party who questions the document’s authenticity. This can be very useful in legal disputes related to the authenticity of electronic documents.
In addition, the legal framework for using electronic signatures provides greater security for the parties that use this tool.
All this has led to increased use cases of qualified signatures in different areas, such as signing contracts, presenting legal documents, or carrying out administrative procedures.
- Usability and accessibility of qualified signature solutions
Another reason for the rapid growth of the use cases of the qualified signature is the improvement in the usability of electronic signature technologies and the decrease in the costs associated with their implementation.
In the past, electronic signatures were perceived as complicated and expensive, which limited their adoption in numerous instances. However, thanks to the development of more accessible and user-friendly technologies, such as cloud-based electronic signature solutions (SaaS), such as nebulaSIGN or signature applications for mobile devices, the qualified signature has become more accessible for companies and individuals.