As businesses switch to digital technologies to automate their business processes and improve efficiency, it has become a necessity for them to adopt advanced digital solutions, such as electronic signatures. Electronic signatures are secure, convenient, and economical, and they offer a plethora of benefits.
However, in South Africa, standard electronic signatures don't hold the same legal status as advanced electronic signatures. Therefore, Zoho Sign integrates with TrustFactory, a trust service provider (TSP), to offer advanced electronic signatures to its South African users.
In this blog, we will learn about:
Legality of electronic signatures in South Africa
Standard electronic signatures (SES) and advanced electronic signatures (AES)
Zoho Sign's integration with TrustFactory
Electronic signature legality in South Africa
South Africa legally recognizes electronic signatures and regulates them by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (ECTA). Anyone residing in South Africa can choose electronic signatures as their preferred method of signing, and it will be treated as the equivalent to traditional wet signatures by the South African two-tiered legal model. Also, contracting parties in South Africa are advised to support their agreements with electronic signatures or traditional wet signatures, as proving verbal contracts that lack evidence is tricky and complicated.
Standard electronic signatures and advanced electronic signatures
The ECTA distinguishes electronic signatures as standard electronic signatures (SES) and advanced electronic signatures (AES). Standard electronic signatures are defined by the ECTA as, “data attached to, incorporated in, or logically associated with other data and which is intended by the user to serve as a signature.” Standard electronic signatures are non-secure, unreliable, and have a high risk of forgery. On the flip side, advanced electronic signatures are qualified signatures that are more secure and reliable. They can't be tampered with and ensure data integrity. Advanced electronic signatures are accredited in consonance with section 37 of the ECTA. Therefore, advanced electronic signatures are considered prima facie evidence.
AES through TrustFactory for South African users
Zoho Sign offers advanced electronic signatures to its South African users by partnering with TrustFactory, a TSP and one of South Africa's trusted identity verification providers, accredited by the South African Accreditation Authority (SAAA). TrustFactory provides Zoho Sign users with digital signature certificates after they complete a face-to-face identity verification process. These certificates enable users to sign documents with AES in Zoho Sign. TrustFactory is also an Adobe Approved Trust List (AATL) member, meaning it can provide AATL certificates. These are useful for cross-border contracts, as these certificates are legally enforceable around the world.
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Happy (Zoho) Signing!