Improving Zoho Sign to navigate regional regulatory landscapes

Improving Zoho Sign to navigate regional regulatory landscapes

Hello everybody,

In our recent announcements, we said that the adoption of e-signatures is at an all-time high. This is primarily due to the acceleration in digital transformation across businesses due to the global COVID pandemic. But as its popularity continues to surge, e-signatures are also being subjected to increasing legal scrutiny by regulatory authorities. Different countries, regions, and economic unions each have their own regulatory landscape for businesses, and as a result, what constitutes an accepted e-signature also accordingly varies. Therefore, Zoho Sign, as an e-signature app, must also keep up with such regulations to improve and ensure a higher degree of compliance across different regions and domains of application.

Today, we would like to kick that off by announcing five exciting recent additions to Zoho Sign that can help our users navigate regional regulatory landscapes better.

What's new?
  • Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) for EU
  • eSign for India as defined by the CCA
  • Signing with USB-token for DSCs
  • Trusted document timestamping
  • Print, physically sign, and upload

Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) for EU

As per the electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services (eIDAS) regulations in the EU, Qualified Electronic Signatures are the legal equivalent to wet signatures or signing documents with pen and paper. The QES is created at the time of signing documents using a Qualified Digital Certificate issued to the signer by a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP). A signer has to submit identification documents and undergo face-to-face verification by the QTSP before being issued with this Qualified Digital Certificate and, therefore, this ensures a higher degree of authenticity. Learn more

Zoho Sign offers QES by partnering with Uanataca, one of the authorized QTSPs as per the eIDAS regulation 910/2014 in the European Union, and integrating with their services. This is now readily available for all Enterprise plan users based in our EU datacenter and users can configure it by navigating to Settings > Integrations. Since this service is entirely cloud-based, there's no need for a physical Qualified Signature Creation Device (QCSD). Learn more



Soon, we will unveil more such integrated services via partnerships with other QTSPs in the region.

eSign for India as defined by the CCA

Zoho Sign has partnered with eMudhra, a leading certifying authority (CA) in India, to let signers digitally sign documents using their integrated e-KYC services. This is offered in conformity with the e-sign service specifications defined by the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA), India's root CA, in accordance with the Information Technology Act of 2000. When availing this, a signer has to register with eMudhra by submitting identification documents and will have to log into their service at the time of signing. Upon authentication, they can use eMudhra's e-KYC service to e-sign the documents, thus ensuring multiple levels of authorization and a higher degree of authenticity.

This is now readily available for all Enterprise plan users based in our India datacenter and users can configure it by navigating to Settings > Integrations. Learn more


Signing with USB-token for DSCs

Across the globe, it is now a very prevalent practice for business signatories and important individuals to acquire personal digital signature certificates for signing digital documents. However, even in such a scenario, the signer might need an e-sign app to use their digital signature certificate for signing and Zoho Sign can now help with that.

Yes, users can now sign documents with self-acquired digital signature certificates in Zoho Sign. To do this, however, users would need to download the Zoho Sign USB Signer app for Windows from the Microsoft Store. Once installed, they can log in to their Zoho account and proceed to sign the documents that need their signature. The app will automatically detect any USB-token for DSCs inserted into their device ports and also any other digital signature certificates stored securely on their device. The signer would then have to simply choose the certificate from the list displayed to sign their documents with. Learn more



Trusted document timestamping

Zoho Sign is partnering with multiple timestamping authorities (TSA), to integrate with their trusted timestamping services and introduce document timestamping for digitally signed documents. This is known specifically as Long Term Archival (LTA) as defined by the ETSI TS 103 172 specifications for PAdES services (which is what Zoho Sign offers). This essentially adds an immutable third-party timestamp to digitally signed documents to make it indisputable, prove its existence at the time and date of signing even if the digital signature certificate itself expires in the future, and reinforces non-repudiation.

Zoho has partnered with the following TSAs to introduce this service:
  • Uanataca - for qualified timestamps in EU
  • SEIKO - for Japan
  • GlobalSign - for all other regions and countries across the globe
This is now readily available for all Enterprise plan users and users can enable it by navigating to Settings > Account settings > Document timestamp and choosing their preferred TSA.



Users can now send documents to signers, and the signers can, if necessary, download and print a copy to sign it physically, and then scan and re-upload it back onto Zoho Sign to continue with the e-sign workflow. This helps the signers maintain a physically signed copy of the document for their reference while still being able to do business with the sender via e-signatures. Once a signer uploads a physically signed copy of the document onto their Zoho Sign request, the sender can then check the scanned copy for their signature/seal and validate the submission before proceeding to mark the e-sign request as completed or the e-sign workflow as in-progress for the next signer.

In heavily regulated industries and also some countries, the presence and maintenance of a physically signed copy of documents is still mandated due to reasons of conventional or cultural significance. This enhancement allows for that practice to continue while still integrating it online with Zoho Sign's e-signature services.



Do note that some of these features incur additional cost due to the services being facilitated by integrated third-party providers. Users will be required to purchase Zoho Sign credits as add-ons to cover these costs.

Feel free to explore these additions and let us know your feedback on how we can keep improving. Do watch this space for more such release announcements in the future!

If you need further details or any other assistance, feel free to comment below or write to support@zohosign.com.

Happy Zoho Signing!

Cheers.
Sai Anand

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