What Is the Difference between an eSignature and a Digital Signature?


We are used that the words ‘digital’ and ‘electronic’ are synonymous. That is why it is so difficult to notice the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature. It may seem that they can be used in the same situations and for the same purposes, but in reality, this is not the case. In short, an eSignature is used as a legally valid equivalent of an ink and paper signature. At the same time, a digital signature is necessary for conducting large-scale business transactions and is based on security and modern encryption methods.

Basic Terms

To give an answer, it is necessary to understand the definitions of terms. Although both types of signatures are designed to smooth processes and facilitate the company’s document flow, there are many differences between them.

An e-signature is a symbol, a graphic image of a signature, a fingerprint, or a click used to verify the authenticity of a document. However, the electronic version may not be secure and not include a digital certificate, so it does not guarantee the same level of security as in the case of digital signatures. That is, an electronic signature is essentially as simple as an ink-and-paper counterpart. It is also legally binding if all parties agree to this way of signing documents.

A digital signature is an electronic fingerprint confirmed by a digital certificate for encryption security and reliability. Unlike the electronic version, the digital signature is used to verify the identity rather than just certify the originality or authenticity of the document.

Which Type of Signature Is Right for Your Situation?

An electronic signature is usually used when signing agreements and contracts. As a result, legitimate ways of interaction between the company and its customers or employees can be captured. For example, a sales department or an HR department may use an e-signature to identify customers or employees.

Key differences and purpose of a digital signature

When creating a digital signature, modern methods and algorithms of encryption and information protection are used. Thanks to the cryptographic methods underlying the creation of this type of signature, it is practically impossible to steal or break it, and therefore, the possibility of unauthorized use of the signature by third parties is excluded. Due to its high reliability, the digital signature is recommended for use when concluding serious financial agreements/contracts or when interacting with confidential documents or documents regulated by HIPAA.

Therefore, an electronic signature is an easier thing to use. So, it can be used whenever and wherever it is allowed by internal rules or by the agreement of the parties. A digital signature is necessary in cases where confidentiality and security of personal or financial data come to the fore.

How to Add Digital or E-signatures to Your Documents?

There are special programs and services for this. For example, you can use the airSlate solution to quickly use one or another type of signature to organize important documents. Moreover, you can integrate the airSlate tool into your CRM and database so that the process of interacting with the service is reduced to just a few clicks.

After setting up the tool, you can easily and quickly add signatures to forms, templates, and documents by simply dragging and dropping signature fields into a PDF, web form, DOCX document, etc. Here, you can also assign signatories and send them documents to sign, receive the already signed document, and continue to manage it as you need.

Instead of complicated trips and a large archive department, you will have quick access to the necessary documents at any time. Instead of reminders from the secretary, you can set up notifications about the routing of documents, received signatures, or the need to approve certain agreements. Things that used to take days of painstaking work can now be done in a matter of seconds. This way of doing business is beneficial both for you and your partners and colleagues.

Can an Electronic or Digital Signature Completely Replace Wet Signatures?

In business, wet signatures are becoming less and less common because it is faster, easier, and more convenient to work with digital counterparts. The document flow of corporations is maximally automated, and this standard is becoming common for small businesses as well. However, there are a number of situations where digital options are still prohibited. These are cases such as:

  • Divorce blanks fulfilling
  • Making a will
  • Preparation of documents for obtaining insurance payments
  • Approval of guardianship or adoption scenarios
  • Conducting any legal proceedings

In the situations listed above, only a wet signature is recognized as legally valid. However, in all other cases, document management can use both electronic and digital counterparts, depending on needs and specific situations. Try the benefits of using an e-signature in your work routine, and you will see how convenient it is.


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