Digital signatures have been around for several decades. The scientific basis for this was already laid in 1976. Nevertheless, this technology has only been used relatively rarely so far. The reason for this is certainly that until a few years ago a relatively high expenditure was necessary for the use. Complex navigation and multiple authentication steps made the process too complicated for most users. As a result, it has so far only been used by a few companies with specially trained personnel. In recent years, however, there has been considerable simplification. Many digital signature vendors have invested significant research to reduce the complexity of this task. In addition, the increasing use of smartphones and tablets also offers new possibilities. For these reasons, the digital signature is in the process of becoming an instrument whose use is also suitable for the general public. This benefits both private companies and public institutions.
Financial sector: pioneer in the use of digital signatures
A pioneering role in the use of digital signatures is played by the financial sector. Some companies have already implemented this technology here. For this reason, it is useful to examine the results obtained. A recent study examined 25 companies that use digital signatures. Of particular interest are the results achieved by the Bank of Montreal in Canada. Among the companies examined in this study, the positive effects were most evident. Following the introduction of this technology, the bank's employees needed on average 30 minutes less per day to process forms. The error rate was reduced by an impressive 80 percent. The changeover also had a positive effect on customers. For example, opening a bank account took only eight minutes - significantly less than before the introduction of the digital signature.
The advantages of this technology in the public sector
The examples from the private sector clearly show the advantages of the digital signature. These can also be transferred to other areas where numerous forms and contracts are required. This is the case, for example, in public offices. In many cases their main task is to receive applications from citizens and process them. As part of digitisation, many forms are already available in electronic form. Citizens can fill them in and submit them at the computer. If a signature is required, however, the process becomes many times more complicated. In this case, applicants must additionally print, sign and file the relevant document with the Office. This represents a considerable additional effort for the users. In addition, the processing is more complicated, since the offices must receive the forms also in paper form apart from the electronic registration. The digital signature can provide a much more efficient way of working in this area.
Application examples: How citizens and authorities benefit from digital signatures
The possible applications of this technology are extremely diverse. In principle, it can be used for all forms that previously required a manual signature. An example of this is the tax return. This annoying task would be made much easier for citizens by a fully electronic registration. In addition, the cost of processing by the tax office would be considerably lower. This technology would also make it much easier to register with and deregister from the municipal administration. This simple process is a heavy burden for people who are currently changing their place of residence and are therefore under stress when moving. The walk to the town hall - often combined with limited opening hours and long waiting times - is particularly unpleasant in this situation. However, thanks to the digital signature, this process can be completed online within a few minutes. The same applies to applications to the social welfare office, vehicle registration and many other administrative procedures.