Digital Signature: Beyond Dematerialization, to Digitalization

Cheque. From Wikimedia Commons

Somebody perhaps remember what I wrote time ago while speaking of digital signature:

Digital signature is not the simple digital translation of an analog procedure, but an entirely different process, with nuances that are not obvious and reverberate on the whole process chain from frontoffice to backoffice.

I explained in a following post how the creation of an outstanding digital signature process required Objectway to learn and understand several different languages – legal, operation, IT, customers’, advisors’ et al – and to be able to reach collaboration among every language bearer, to reach success.

Today is the moment for clarifying the concept that a digital signature is not a simple transposition of a analog signature into the digital world, but sonething completely different (and more complex).

This Is Not Dematerialization

Document signature matters, but we had to focus on the context especially. When digital signature is concerned, we aren’t doing dematerialization, but digitalization. This means having to review in a digital context both operation and sales processes.

By experience, and talking with our users, and analyzing people’s behaviors, we realized that digital signature processes can’t be improvised. What was an analog process yesterday you can’t just replicate in a digital way, because it’s not about dematerialization of a sheet of paper. It’s rather work to directly generate a digital sheet of paper, to be digitally signed. Such a feat involves changing all the processes around the sheet, until its archiviation (a topic that deserves its own post alone).

A Whole Model Changes

Introducing digital signatures radically changes the operating model of a financial institution. The biggest mistake is to merely translate an analog process in a digital way. Think about the old triple copy of a document, for instance.

The customer owns a physical signature already; what is to be done is instead to create the digital identity for that customer. Identity that must be unique, guaranteed, permanent. Digital signature is not about technology but about defining, or redefining, a whole bunch of processes.

To make a digital signature real, a software integration company is simply not enough. It takes several different expertises and the ability of making simple what simple is not. There’s a lot behind a digital signature and we are proud of we could accomplish at this extent.

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