eIDAS-compliant eSignatures: Business Continuity in Times of COVID and Beyond

by Dawn M. Turner (guest) on 01. September 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic put many industries to the test as they found alternate ways to serve their customers and manage to survive the crisis. The banking and finance sector may have already been ahead of the curve with digitalisation.

Many banks and financial institutions were already or beginning to provide customers with the ability to digitally sign loan documents and other important financial documents. But with stay-at-home orders, the necessity for full digital customer-client relationships have gained prominence in this sector. Institutions that had not yet embraced digitalisation stood at a crossroads where accepting digitalisation was now a necessity for business continuity.

Business Continuity During COVID-19

As COVID-19 infection rates alarmingly spread throughout the European Union and around the globe, businesses were faced with three primary needs to maintain business continuity in the face of widespread stay-at-home orders.

  1. Serving their existing customers without service interruption but also without physical in-person meetings through implementing a pure digital player and revamping internal processes.
  2. Keeping control while maintaining legal compliance and protecting customer and business data
  3. Onboarding new solutions including digital KYC (know your customer) and reinventing a user-centric business app

Finding a Global Solution

Globalisation has been a major player in the way many organisations, including banks and financial institutions have expanded their operations. Of course, this is a challenge under even the best circumstances. Throwing COVID-19 into the mix with a mass need for increased digitalisation produced additional challenges for global players in search of a global solution.

Challenges facing the banking and finance sector with digitalisation include:

  • Addressing different use cases, such as retail vs. corporate
    • Numerous, if not thousands of different types of documents
    • Millions of transactions that require legally-binding consent
  • Addressing different jurisdiction requirements
    • Some offering equivalence with legacy signatures
    • Some offering admissibility in court of law
    • While eIDAS is the law of the land for EU members, other localities have their own laws, i.e., ZertES, SG ETA, HK ETO, etc.
  • Booking centres using same technology but must consider:
    • Assurance of data privacy (KYC)
    • Strong data segregation
    • Smooth user experience (UX) for browser and mobile device signing

Digitalising the Signature UX

In digitalizing the signature UX, there are three major considerations:

  1. Providing a trustworthy user identity verification, which can be accomplished through:
    • Legacy KYC/RA process
    • Video identification app
    • eID (preferable notified IdP)
  2. Providing a non-repudiable UX by:
    • Demonstrating “what you see is what you sign” aka WYSIWYS
    • Implementing sound security
    • Complying with digital signature law and fulfilment forms
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    Acknowledging booking centres use same IT but:
    • Data privacy (KYC) needs to be assured
    • Strong data segregation must be maintained
    • Smooth UX for browser and mobile device signing is needed

Implementing a Sound Digital Signature Strategy

Considering the challenges facing the banking and financial sector in maintaining business continuity during COVID-19 and beyond, it is a matter of survival to implement a sound digital signature strategy going forward. To do this, business must address their:

Key Drivers for Digitalisation:

  • Digital transformation
  • Business continuity
  • Increase in non-repudiation
  • Reduction in cost and time-to-market
  • Smooth UX for browser and mobile device use

Key Challenges Facing Business:

  • Lack of expertise
  • Ownership of service/business case
  • Verifying user identity
  • IT implementations
  • Local and global legal hurdles

Hopefully, with world-wide vaccination efforts, we are now moving to a post-pandemic state after months of operating in an almost surreal “fight or flight” mode. While it is apparent that COVID-19 precipitated the need of digitalisation for business continuity, society has rapidly assumed this new comfort for its convenience, simplicity, and convenience. Now is the time for banks and financial institutions to finetune, expand, or implement their digitalisation efforts to best suit their operations to ensure future business continuity regardless of what the future may bring.


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