Digital signature verifies identity with selfie | information age
Selfies are the new way to digitally sign documents. Photo: Shutterstock
Signing and enforcing contracts is set to be significantly simplified with Australia’s launch of Livesign, a mobile app that leverages secure passport data – and a selfie taken by the user at the time of signing – to verify identity. a signatory without a third party witness. .
The need for witnesses for a signature has been a legal requirement for verification of identity (VoI) for centuries, to prevent fraud and ensure that signers can be held accountable for their contractual commitments.
Yet, even when contracts are transmitted digitally, signature pages or entire contracts typically need to be printed, signed, attested, and scanned to be returned to the originator, creating massive amounts of work and administrative duplication.
State and federal laws have allowed for a long time electronic signatures to carry the same weight in the form of paper signatures – a process that accelerated when the COVID-19 pandemic forced a transition to contactless signing – and the market reacted with an explosion of electronic signature solutions allowing to sign a digital document with the finger on a smartphone or a tablet.
These processes also require the signature of a witness – but with the release of Livesign, said The Law Store CEO Ian Hendey, parties to a contract can now verify the identity of signers by verifying biometric details against to official details stored electronically on passport chips from over 120 countries.
Using an approach recently adopted by the government MyGovID Servicethe app takes a ‘selfie’ photo of the signer and verifies this and other key identity details against the digital image stored on the passport chip.
The information is also cross-referenced with Medicare cards or other ID documents to confirm the identity of the person using the app.
“Digital signing and digital VoI are no longer just conveniences, they are an expectation, particularly in areas such as conveyancing and mortgages,” said Ian Hendey, CEO of thelawstore.com.au, who created Livesign.
“We identified the need for a technology solution to allow you to sign a document and prove your identity at the same time…we are increasing the security of the testifying process to provide the security of in-person testimony with the convenience of digital .”
Sign your name, through my smartphone
The digital signature has been warmly welcomed by financial services organizations, where identity verification processes can delay the signing of large contracts and other administrative documents.
LiveSign delivers “a clear VoI experience to our clients, alleviating what was previously a major pain point for our firm,” noted Perry Russel, legal practice director at Keylaw Conveyancing Solicitors, who sees the integrated solution as key to meeting the needs customers who “demand simplicity and value”.
Gateway Bank has leveraged LiveSign to streamline its identity verification and document signing processes from 12 days to five minutes – a change which, according to customer operations manager Zeb Drummond, “removed barriers for customers from rural and regional areas across Australia… while mitigating fraud, operational and security risks.
The shift to digital signatures “is really a one-way street,” said DocuSign APJ Group Vice President and General Manager Dan Bognar, in discussing the recent Momentum APAC 22 conference.
“The tuning systems that have been built,” he said, “have such an impact that there is literally no going back to pen and paper.”
Long a dominant player in the electronic signature market projected to grow 36.1% annually through 2029, DocuSign has been praised by clients such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which has reported that electronically signed loans are funded 20 days faster than paper loans.
DocuSign last year in partnership with Australia Post to leverage that company’s own digital VoI services – but by combining digital signing with PoI functionality in a single app, LiveSign goes one step further: “effectively”, Hendey said, “a mobile phone has become the secure witness in a digital system world.”
Universal electronic document signing is a major part of the Morrison government’s deregulation agenda, which saw the publication of a new discussion paper late last year as it strives to finalize a cohesive way nationwide to digitally sign legally binding documents.