The recent passage of the Electronic Transactions Legislation Amendment (Government Transactions) Bill 2017 in NSW Parliament is proof e-signatures are fast becoming a key driver in the way Australian citizens interact with both government and the private sector.
Our lives are governed by signatures, forms and contracts. It’s estimated that about 85 per cent of transactions with government departments involve a form of some kind. From property applications to drivers’ licenses, signatures infiltrate every area of our lives.
Today, most of those documents – and documents dealing with the private sector – end in a wet signature, often followed by scanning and filing. Before this legislation passed, you might be surprised to learn that many documents in NSW were required to be served ‘personally or by post’.
The NSW Parliament recently took a very welcome step in the right direction. The Electronic Transactions bill may have gone unnoticed by many citizens, however it has the potential for significant improvements in how we all interact with government and businesses by removing unnecessary prohibitions on digital transactions. The new law aims to reduce the almost 16 million transactions currently conducted in non-digital channels by 20 percent in 10 years. This is in a state where residents and businesses conduct more than 40 million transactions each year.
Finance Minister Victor Dominello rightly pointed out during consideration of that legislation in Parliament that “government transactions and processes should be fit for purpose in a digital age, simple and easy to apply in a digital context.” In other words, modernising government services benefits the citizens that use them.
One way to implement the new law’s vision is to replace paper forms with digital documents and e-signatures.
In fact, Australians are going to rapidly adopt e-signatures in the foreseeable future. A recent study by Forrester projected almost 100 million transactions will be processed via e-signatures by 2020. This rapid adoption will be fueled by businesses swiftly implementing e-signatures into their processes. In fact, the study also showed that 99% of businesses surveyed will do so within the next 12-24 months.
The Electronic Transactions Legislation Amendment (Government Transactions) Bill 2017 is effectively designed to modernise NSW laws in line with existing and new digital technologies. The critical aspect of the amendment is setting a precedent for both government and business, because where the government goes, business follows.
E-signatures have only achieved 20 per cent market penetration to date. However, the majority of companies are looking to implement an e-signatures solution within the next one to two years, according to the Forrester study.
With the current outlook for government and business e-signature implementation within the two-year range, there’s clear scope for business processes to improve and costs to come down.
An e-signatures solution can save up to 15 per cent of operating costs following its implementation, and this does not account for any indirect savings such as faster processing times. Seventy three per cent of the businesses surveyed for the Forrester report (209 Australian organisations), indicated that business process management and improvement was their number one motivation.
This will surely lead to changes in consumer habits. When experiences are digitised, the divide between conducting business online and offline is eliminated, and so ecommerce, transactions in the workplace and even things like simply paying a bill become easier.
Adobe Sign allows government and enterprise to streamline their transactions with other entities and the public. This sign-on-glass or other electronic device solution is fully integrated with Adobe’s Document Cloud.
The Adobe Sign solution also provides for fully visible workflows, from the initial generation of the document, to its transit from signer to signee, and back to the provider when the document is signed. Reports can be generated based on when and where the document is opened, and can notify the provider if the recipient has failed to look at or open the document.
As an experience, this is much better for the individual, the enterprise and the government department. Adobe Sign ensures that processes are completed quickly, without error and securely, while ensuring your information remains on-shore.
As Australian governments get on board, it’s time for all businesses across the Asia Pacific region to think digital first and make e-signatures part of their transformation agendas.