We continue to rely on signatures from the Stone Age

It is the year 2018. Flying cars seen in the old classic Back to the Future blockbuster films are long overdue. Some of the events in these films took place in the future and in year 2015 flying cars were a part of everyday life. Well, at least the self-guided cars in some level seem to be part of everyday traffic.

In retrospect, I’m not quite sure what the filmmakers were thinking about. Are the flying cars in the films because of the idea of them helping with everyday life or because of the positive futuristic vision they bring? In any case, a relief to day-to-day life still feels very distant. A more concrete issue seems to be the problems with public transportation rather than the lack of private flying cars.

In 2011, Fondia's CEO published an article in business magazine Talouselämä (original article in Finnish). The topic dealt with the lack of electronic signature practices with the title: "How long are we going to rely on signatures from the Stone Age?" At the time, the author predicted that in 2016 when using a credit card, PIN code entry is commonplace and asking for the possibility to give traditional signature is frowned upon. The prediction hit the nail on the head. However, the question in the title of the article is still completely timely.

"Unfortunately, in 2018 I still have to repeat the question: how long are we going to rely on prehistoric signatures?"

I was recently shopping in a store that offered kitchen furniture and contracting. We started the negotiations at the physical store. Then the purchasing process continued by email. We got the details agreed upon easily by email messages. Eventually I got the contract to be signed as an email attachment. Between the signed contract and me stood a big obstacle. The lack of a printer. Luckily in my case the problem was soon solved by using the printer at the work.

I kept thinking of the question raised by Fondia’s CEO as early as 2011. At the same time, I felt like giving myself a mental high-five for being involved in the change. As it turns out I was involved in planning and creating Deltagon’s solution for digital signatures published in 2017. Unfortunately, in 2018 I still have to repeat the question: how long are we going to rely on prehistoric signatures?

In the Nordic countries, the strong and simple ways of identifying a person are handed to us on a plate. In the digital pioneer country Estonia, things have gone so far that a citizenship can be acquired digitally, and you can establish a business easily just by using your keyboard.

I suggest we take on a mission with a goal to sign 90 percent of contracts digitally in 2019.

Tuukka Meriläinen

Tuukka works as a Product Manager at Deltagon Group Oy.

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