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The Introduction to Electronic Signature and Digital Signature

Adobe officially released PDF format files in 1992 to vigorously promote the electronization of documents. In 1999, Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader began to support digital signature technologies, intended to promote the credibility of electronic documents. According to the introduction on Adobe website, Electronic Signature (or e-signature) is a broad term referring to any electronic process that indicates acceptance of an agreement or a record. Typical e-signature solutions use common electronic authentication methods to verify signer identity, such as an email address, a corporate ID, or a phone PIN. If increased security is needed, multifactor authentication may be used. The best e-signature solutions demonstrate proof of signing using a secure process that includes an audit trail along with the final document.

But, if the user sets to use the graphic of the handwritten signature, electronic signature has a problem that it is impossible to verify whether the graphic of the handwritten signature is indeed the signature of the signer. The signing parties of the contract only either trust the signature graphic or verify the authenticity of the signature graphic by other means. This is the deficiency of the electronic signature.

Digital Signature (or D-signature) is one specific type of electronic signature, which is an improved and more reliable electronic signature. Digital signature use certificate-based digital IDs to authenticate signer identity and demonstrate proof of signing by binding each signature to the document with encryption, there is no need to include an audit trail along with the final document. The signer’s identity validation occurs through trusted certificate authorities (CAs) or trust service providers (TSPs).

At present, the most popular service providers, such as DocuSign and Adobe Sign use electronic signatures to sign the contracts online. The signing parties can complete the contract signing on the platform after finishing the email verification. But in order to ensure that the signed electronic contract files will not be tampered with, then the signed documents need to be digitally signed by the PDF signing certificate of the service provider. That is to say, the signing platform does not use the signer’s digital certificate to sign the documents. According to the electronic signature laws in some countries, electronic contracts signed with electronic signatures have legal effect. According to EU and Chinese electronic signature law, only the digital signature method has the same legal effect as the handwritten signature.

MeSign Contract E-signature Service only supports digital signature, and does not provide electronic signature, because we believe that it is not enough that just validate the contract signer's email address only, especially for signing contract online that the signing parties do not meet face to face for each other. MeSign Contract E-signature Service use digital signature method that validate the authentic identity of each signer, and automatically configures each signer with a PDF signing certificate of Adobe global trusted for digitally signing contracts. MeSign Document D-signature Service also only supports digital signature, validate the authentic identity of document signer, and automatically configures the signer with a PDF signing certificate of Adobe global trust for digitally signing the PDF documents.

MeSign E-sign Service uses Adobe trusted PDF signing certificate for Document D-signature and Contract E-signature with Adobe trusted timestamping service, to guarantee all signed documents and contracts have legal effect globally. Additionally, all digital signatures are Adobe LTV enabled, to guarantee the signed document’s digital signature is valid for a long time.