Is there a less cumbersome alternative? Well, there is e-signing, or electronic signing.
This week, we look at three applications that allow you to sign a document on your tablet, smartphone or your PC. Suppose it is a contract. You can send the document to another person, who adds his/her signature as well, and you have an electronic copy with the signatures of both the parties — and all for free.
[Android, iOS and Web Browser]
Create a free account, and upload the document that needs to be signed —preferably a PDF file. If you are working on a tablet, you can use Sign Now to open a document from your cloud (Internet) storage as well.
Once the document is opened, click at the place where the signature is needed, and you are given three options: ‘Insert Signature’, ‘Insert Text’ or ‘Insert Today’s Date’. Select the first option, and you get a screen where you can sign or upload a virtual signature using the software app’s features. This is now stored as your signature, which you can use on the document.
Once signing is done, you can save and download the new file. Save it with a name that will remind you that it is the signed copy (eg: Signed Agreement.pdf). If you need another person to sign the document, you need to have the professional version of Sign Now (that costs $9 or R495 a month): you can insert “sign here” fields on the document that can be emailed to the second party.
The free version allows you to sign up to five documents a month, and comes with unlimited storage. You need to store the signature on all your devices; documents get synchronised across devices, not the signature. On the PC you can also create a signature by typing your name, or scanning a signature.
[Android and iOS]
This is from an Indian company. They do not have a Web version, which means the application needs to be downloaded and installed. On the iOS it can sign you in through your Facebook account — though that did not work for us.
The application comes with what they call a Basic Account, in which you can sign three documents. Beyond this, you need to either buy an annual subscription ( Rs. 1,100) or a pay-as-you-go subscription ( Rs. 110 per five documents).
Sign Easy lets you create a signature and initials, or upload a file with a virtual signature. The app opens the page you select as a document. You can ‘Insert Signature’, initials, date, text or even an image. The downside is that we had crashes when signing at times.
Adobe Echo Sign
[iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Web Browser]
This the richest and the most secure signing application of all. You first need to create a user name and password using a browser. You can subsequently use the app that suits your Windows, iOS or Blackberry device.
Here is how it works: you send a document, and choose if the other party signs first or you or specific you are just coordinating a signature. The document can be signed by up to six people, and you can do five documents a month in the free plan. You can also password-protect documents, and make sure only people identified via their Web identity, such as email, Facebook and Linked-In accounts can sign the document.
The free version also gives you an audit trail and a support to build PDF forms, and a document certification.
Paid versions start at $14.95 (R825) per user per month, and allow several more features to be used.