Which companies can use qualified electronic signatures?

In recent years, the electronic signature has been gaining traction and has positioned itself as the preferred option to the handwritten signature. However, there are still some doubts about the types of signature that exist and what their differences are.   

In this post we explain what a qualified electronic signature is and also banish some of the misconceptions associated with this type of signature.

What is a qualified electronic signature?

The electronic signature is a collection of electronic data used by the signatory to identify himself and express acceptance of the content of an electronic document. It brings convenience, security and speed to the signing of any type of contract. 

According to the European eIDAS Regulation, which establishes the legal framework for trust services in the European Union, there are 3 types of electronic signature with different levels of security: 

- Simple electronic signature: this is the most basic, and cannot be equated to a handwritten signature.

- Advanced electronic signature: this type of signature is at an intermediate level of security, without being equivalent to a handwritten signature.

- Qualified electronic signature: of the three types of signature recognized by the eIDAS regulation, it is the only one equivalent to the handwritten signature.

How to differentiate the qualified electronic signature from the advanced or simple electronic signature?

1.- By its linkage: to create a qualified signature, a qualified digital certificate is required, which is the one that unequivocally identifies the holder. 
2.- Because of its equivalence: it is the only signature recognized by the European eIDAS regulations as equivalent to the handwritten signature. 
2.- For its legal guarantees: the qualified electronic signature offers the maximum legal guarantees.
3.- Because of the supplier's guarantees: only a Qualified Electronic Services Provider can provide and support this type of signature. 
4.- Non-repudiation: prevents the signatory from denying the signature and its legal effects.
5.- Reversal of the burden of proof: in a judgment, if the signature is qualified, it is up to the party that attempts to disavow it to prove that it has not made the signature.

Types of companies can use qualified electronic signatures

Any type of company that needs to provide its signature processes with maximum legal guarantees can use qualified electronic signatures. To cite a few examples, this type of signature is used in the health sector, in telecommunications companies, insurance companies, and even in the financial sector. 

On the other hand, it is also suitable for more traditional business models and even for the most disruptive and technological ones, such as X-Tech. In any case, Uanataca's flexible, pay-per-use solutions adapt to companies of any size, allowing SMEs or entrepreneurs to digitise their signature processes quickly, easily and with maximum guarantees. 

As for its application in internal processes, it is a type of signature that cuts across all departments - legal, financial, human resources, among others - that can be as valuable in the front-office as in the back-office. 

As we will see in the following section, the type of electronic signature should be chosen according to the use case, not the type of company, its sector, industry or size.

What type of signature should I choose for my business?

There is no one type of electronic signature that is better than another, only types of signatures that are more suitable for each case of use. Our recommendation when choosing a type of signature is to apply the principle of proportionality: signing a holiday application is not the same as signing a commercial contract. 

In the first of these cases, where maximum evidentiary guarantees are not required, an advanced electronic signature would be sufficient. On the other hand, if we are dealing with an important transaction for the business, such as signing a bank loan, taking out an insurance policy or signing a deposit on a property, we should opt for the higher level of guarantees of a qualified electronic signature.  

On the other hand, there are certain operations in which the use of a qualified electronic signature is mandatory, such as the production of electronic public documents. We recommend that you read this post to find out more about this subject.

5 misconceptions about qualified electronic signatures

Thanks to Uanataca's solutions, the qualified electronic signature is a secure, agile and very easy to use tool. Below, we demystify some of the most common beliefs surrounding qualified electronic signatures and their use: 

1.- It is difficult to use: ❌FALSE.
✔️ Qualified electronic signature is the most secure but it does not have to be complicated. Uanataca's solutions are usable, intuitive and do not require user experience. 
2.- It is expensive: ❌FALSE
✔️ Uanataca's solutions do not have monthly plans or standard fees. Its pay-as-you-go model allows companies to ensure their financial health by eliminating unnecessary costs. 
3.- You need a complex infrastructure: ❌FALSE
✔️ Uanataca has its own infrastructure: companies do not need to invest in technology or equipment maintenance. In addition, we have a team of electronic signature specialists who offer support to make integration quick and easy. 
4.- You will need hardware: ❌FALSE
✔️ Digital certificates are one of the elements that provide guarantees for qualified electronic signatures. With certificates stored in the cloud (HSM) you no longer need to have a hardware -token or smart card- as a qualified signature device. 
5.- Can only be used on PC: ❌FALSE
✔️ With Uanataca's Mobile Signature solution, unlimited mobility is achieved. It is a secure and agile option to be able to use the qualified electronic signature at any time and place.

Evidentiary value of the qualified electronic signature

In itself, the electronic signature enjoys full legal recognition in the Spanish legal system through the Electronic Signature Law (Law 59/2003) and in Europe through the eiIDAS Regulation. This means that, regardless of the type of electronic signature used, it is fully admissible in legal proceedings. 

While the legal effects of an electronic signature cannot be denied on the sole ground that it is in electronic form, its evidentiary force and effects will depend on the type of electronic signature used. 

Of the three types of electronic signature regulated by the eiIDAS Regulation, the qualified electronic signature is the most robust in its evidentiary quality. What does this mean? That the qualified signature is the only one that equates to the handwritten signature, standing on its own as full proof and even, as we have already seen in this post, reversing the burden of proof.

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