Electronic and Digital Signatures

Electronic signature, or eSignature, is the broad umbrella category under which all electronic signatures fall. Digital signatures are a specific signature technology implementation of electronic signature. 

Organizations typically refer to eSignature as the process a person goes through to demonstrate their intent during an electronic transaction whereas a digital signature refers to the encryption technology containing critical metadata pertaining to the e-signature. The eSignature is the legally binding record while the digital signature is the underlying technology that helps verify the authenticity of the transaction.

Electronic signatures and their terminology are often region-specific as the technology has evolved differently in countries based on their purpose, underlying technology and legal and cultural acceptance.  There are international regulations that help to standardize the terms and meanings of eSignatures.  For example, eIDAS is an EU regulation on eSignatures for the European market. 

DocuSign Standards-Based Signatures is a core feature of DocuSign’s platform that enables customers to enjoy the full range of DocuSign Signature capabilities while staying compliant with local and industry e-signature standards. Similar to carrier-grade availability, DocuSign Standards-Based Signatures is a platform feature that is available across all of DocuSign’s applications and integrations.  In the EU, there are three key signatures in the DocuSign Standards-Based Signature portfolio, Express Signature, EU Advanced Signature and EU Qualified Signature. 

When referring to the process of electronically signing a document, it is recommended that the terms electronic signature or eSignatures are used.  Digital Signatures should be used when referring specifically to electronic signatures that are signed using digital certificate technology.

For more on digital signatures: