Digital Signatures and eIDAS regulation
Remote, digital signing is a simple yet effective way to expedite contract processes and eliminate the inefficiency surrounding paper-based contractual arrangements. Digital arrangements are the way to move forward because they are fast, easy, cheap, and effective. The covid-19 pandemic exemplifies the need for full integration of digital signatures to current business models. While digital signatures offer obvious benefits, uncertainty as to their validity severely limits their potential use. The binding nature of contracts might be put into question if digital signatures lack validity and legal effect.
The EU has taken a decisive step towards unifying and offering consistent conditions for the application of electronic signatures, as part of a wider range of trust services, through the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation (eIDAS Regulation). The Regulation replaces and widens the scope of the previous framework in the area, which only regulated electronic signatures in a fragmented and unsatisfactory way. The Regulation introduces the concept of trust services, which are essentially electronic services that underpin, facilitate, and enable the operation of electronic transactions, and trust service providers as the entities providing such services.
These trust services include electronic signatures, electronic seals, electronic time stamps, electronic registered delivery services. Thus, electronic signatures are only a type of electronic services regulated at EU level. The Regulation also imposes conditions on trust service providers, regulates liability, legal effect, validity, and admissibility of trust services, including e-signatures, and provides three types of trust services, simple, advanced, and qualified.
Our expert team guides the proper integration of electronic signatures, and other trust services, to our clients’ business operations, in an effective and comprehensive way.
To do so, we analyse the types of simple, advanced, and qualified e-signatures and potential shortcomings and risks thereof, we examine the conditions and limitations of proposed trust service providers, we coordinate with the competent authorities, we assess the existing infrastructure and processes of our clients’ business models, we make recommendations intending to combine processes to cover potential remote onboarding and remote KYC/AML procedures with e-signing; we essentially provide holistic consultation that aims for the optimal transformation of our clients’ business through the use of trust services, including, e-signatures.
The Regulation also introduces the concept of Electronic Identification (eID). Citizens may follow certain prescribed procedures to become securely identified with authenticated data. This electronic identification entitles them to access public services of both their country and of other EU member states, without having to undergo repeated identification and authentication processes. EU member states are obliged to acknowledge other states’ citizens’ eID only to online public services.
Our team also advises under this regime, ensuring the meeting of the prescribed conditions and addressing liability concerns. We are at the front line of this regime’s development, anticipating the widening of its scope to the private sector, which will unlock huge efficiency potential. We already consult clients in taking advantage of this regime to enhance their identification and authentication processes, mainly for KYC/AML and remote onboarding processes, while gaining a significant competitive advantage over other businesses.