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E-Signing 2.0

Patrick Hochstein was used to late nights at the office. As the vice president of North American sales at Worldspan, an Atlanta-based technology distribution company for the travel industry, he was bogged down sending hundreds of 20-page subscriber agreements to clients.

"At the beginning we were FedEx monsters," Hochstein says. "Then we were fax machine monsters. We had a managed process, but it was very labor intensive."

"We use a repository strategy," says Tom Gonser, vice president of product strategy at DocuSign. "So if I have a document that I want to send you to sign, I effectively print it to DocuSign, where it is encrypted and a hash, or fingerprint, of the document is made. Then I can tab where a client needs to initial and sign, select the authentication level and have it sent to all parties whose signature is required."

This is e-signing version 2.0, and its potential uses stretch far beyond mere electronic signatures.

Further, although the ESIGN Act authorizes the use of e-signatures for many document types--such as business contracts, agreements, applications, authorizations, loans, leases and employment documents--the law does stipulate several types of documents that, at the present time, cannot be signed electronically. Those include wills, codicils, testamentary trusts, notices of cancellation of utilities, foreclosures, cancellation of health or life insurance and product recalls. This may deter some in-house counsel from using e-signing.

"There's always a fear someone may challenge the legality," says Bill Maloney, a sales manager at Worldspan. "That's why we still limit e-signing to our boiler plate contracts and smaller deals."

Technology Editor

Keith Ecker

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