Digital Signature in Australia for Businesses
An increasing number of Australian businesses are relying on digital signatures every year. Globally, as many as one in five contracts are signed with a digital signature: paving the way for a new age of electronic document processing that prioritises productivity.
What is a digital signature?
A digital signature is an electronic representation of your signature on a digital document. Digital signatures are a form of electronic signature that uses encryption to guarantee a document is authentic.
Digital signatures are possible through specialised signature software. This software works on computers, tablets and smartphones and allows you to sign a document by pressing a button or drawing your signature by hand.
Using digital signatures allows people to sign documents from anywhere, at any time - making them essential for many Australian businesses. Digital signatures also have other benefits, as they:
How to prepare digital signatures in Australia
Digital signatures were made legally binding in Australia by the 1999 Electronic Transactions Act. According to the Civil Law Division of the Attorney-General’s Department many digital signatures in Australia use a cybersecurity protocol called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).
PKI uses a mathematical equation to assign each signature two strings of numbers - called ‘keys’. These keys encrypt the data about the signature (like when it was signed). If the document is changed in any way after you sign it, the PKI will identify the changes and declare the document invalidated. This makes digital signatures more cyber secure than handwritten signatures that can easily be forged.
Importance of digital signature for businesses
Research suggests that businesses switch to digital signatures for five primary reasons, including:
The desire to meet the evolving needs of customers who expect digital signature options.
Increased awareness of digital signatures and their legality.
The desire to be competitive with other companies who don’t use digital signatures.
The desire to become more cyber secure.
Growth in the number of mobile devices used by the business.
Once organisations have adopted digital signatures in businesses, they are able to speed up the process of signing documents. This is because digital signatures allow organisations to:
#1. Sign documents without printing them.
Digital signatures can be applied to documents without the document needing to be printed onto paper. This decreases the cost of paper, printer ink, toner and maintenance for a printer. Switching to signatures is also great for the environment as Australia produces over 3.2 million tonnes of paperboard and paper every year.
As digital signatures in business transactions are stored digitally, there is also no need to file documents you have signed. This saves time and office space in an economy where both are a luxury.
#2. Evolve with the remote-work movement in a post-COVID world.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the remote work revolution has transformed the Australian workforce. A report from the ABC now estimates that up to 61% of employees want the option to work remotely, with remotely-operated businesses expected to surge in popularity.
When workers are operating remotely, businesses need a centralised process to track and control legally binding documents. Digital signatures in business facilitate this, as they allow documents to be stored digitally in a central location. This removes the need for an office and on-site filing, meaning businesses no longer have to base their operations in a single location.
#3. Add digital signatures to PDF documents.
Digital signatures can be applied to PDF documents with signature software. Many Australian businesses rely on PDF documents to send confidential documents as PDF documents guarantee the document is authentic through encryption.
Adding digital signatures to PDF documents adds an extra layer of protection not seen in hand-delivered documents, making it essential for Australian businesses who prioritise security.
#4. Track the progress of their documents.
Digital signatures in business are applied through software that tracks the send-sign-send process. When you send a document, you are able to see when it was received, signed and sent back. This prevents documents from becoming lost between parties and removes the need for follow-up phone calls.
#5. Speed up the document signing process.
While signing a single document only takes a few minutes, many Australian businesses process thousands of documents every day. Long term, this results in a loss of office productivity as workers are stuck printing, signing and faxing documents that could be sent digitally in seconds.
We saw this in action when the real estate and banking industry was forced to use digital signatures as a COVID-19 safety measure. As digital signatures were accepted on contracts, documents were processed significantly faster - saving all involved parties time and money.
How Australians use digital signatures in business
Australians use digital signatures in business operations nationwide. Although all businesses can benefit from digitisation, many industries have embraced the efficiency of digital signatures.
The Electronic Prescribing Initiative was introduced into Australia’s healthcare system in early 2020. The initiative allows Doctors and pharmacists to create electronic prescriptions and send them to pharmacies via fax, email or text message.
This streamlines the prescription process through telehealth, as prescriptions are sent directly from Doctors to pharmacies without patients requiring an in-person appointment. This reduces the amount of time Doctors spend printing and signing prescriptions, allowing them to re-prescribe recurring prescriptions instantly.
Temporary measures under the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation ruled that digital signatures on deeds, guarantees, statutory declarations, mortgages, trust deeds and other documents were considered legally binding. This allowed documents to be processed digitally, reducing the cost and hassle of real estate transactions.
In June, a collection of real estate and banking associations proposed digital signatures be permanently accepted as legally binding, as they were a “huge efficiency gain” for consumers, banks and businesses.
Online fax providers help Australian businesses send, store and receive faxes through the internet. This speeds up the faxing process, saving businesses money they would have spent on a traditional fax machine.
Online fax systems like eFax have in-built digital signature systems that allow you to sign documents instantly. eFax’s system allows businesses to make a digital signature in two ways.
You can store a photo of your signature, and apply it to documents where needed.
You can draw your signature using your mouse, trackpad or touchscreen.
Once the document is signed it can be faxed to the recipient without needing to be printed: no paper, no filing and no stress.
Embrace digital signatures with eFax
If you’re adopting digital signatures in your business, consider partnering with a world-class online fax solution like eFax.
eFax’s multi-platform system allows you to receive, sign and send faxes in seconds, helping Australian businesses work faster and smarter. All eFax faxes are stored in the cloud, so you don’t need to worry about losing documents or contracts.
Switching to the NBN causes many Australian businesses to lose their fax system - but not with eFax. eFax is a future-proof and NBN compatible solution suitable for businesses nationwide.
eFax’s faxing experts can help you seamlessly transition your fax service while keeping your NBN fax number from day one. eFax experts even resolve over 95% of member calls in less than two minutes, helping you get back to work quickly.
To try eFax’s online fax system for yourself start a free 30-day trial
or contact on 1800 283 361.