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Electronic signature in a company

Implementation of the electronic signature in a company does not have to be solely the result of legal obligation. Its usage in areas other than tax returns increases company’s position in the market, reduces costs of business activities and increases document security.

Qualified electronic signature in relations with authorities

In our country, electronic signature is most commonly with a cryptographic card and a reader connected to a computer using USB port. It’s a so-called qualified electronic signature, issued in Poland by five qualified trust service provider companies.  CenCert, EuroCert, KIR S.A., PWPW, Certum. The supervision over these provides is performed by the National Bank of Poland under National Certification Centre (NCCert) system.

Obtaining the qualified electronic signature involves costs (from hundred or so PLN up to even three hundred PLN for purchase), procedure of certificate issuance and cyclical cost of renewal.

Complicated process of obtaining the qualified electronic signature and its relatively high costs caused this type of signature to fail to become a popular alternative in Poland to a signature handwritten on paper. Currently, it used by companies mainly in communications with authorities.

As of 1 January 2015, accounting firms and tax payers who employ more than 5 people are required to submit tax returns to tax authorities only in electronic form signed using the qualified electronic signature.

Handwritten electronic signature in relations with customers

An alternative to the qualified electronic signature is the handwritten electronic signature which works great in any transaction made with customers: signing contracts, requests, orders, confirmations, reports etc.

The technology is based on tablets fitted with a proper screen and software registering biometric data of a handwritten signature (time of placing, strength, quickness and reaction time). The data is a digital equivalent of ink handwritten signature pattern and may be used in the Court to verify the signature. At first sight, this signature may be compared with electronic signing of courier delivery confirmations, however, the quality of signature registration and the data itself is significantly higher.

Advantage of handwritten electronic signature, in comparison with qualified signature, is a lack of necessity to obtain certifications, registering and renewing them.

Implementation of such signature type in a company allows to generate many benefits both for the company, as well as for its customers. They are, among others, quicker and better customer service, lower operational costs, better document and data security, environmental savings, and standing out form competition.

Amendments to law

Legal provisions changing in 2016, i.e. EU regulation eIDAS, domestic Trusted Services and Electronic Identification and novelization of the Civil Code, allow for the broader use of the handwritten electronic signature which makes this solution may, much like in many countries around the world, become popular in Poland as well.