Big Irish Bank asks me to fax 21 years since E-Signatures were signed into law
In 2000 the Electronic Signature Bill was signed into law in Ireland giving e-signatures equal status to ink signatures on paper. Many will remember when Bill Clinton and Bertie Ahern electronically signed an agreement using the new legislation.
So, why is it that a significant number of interactions Irish consumers have with Government services and with private sector suppliers still require paper forms and ink signatures? One of the traditional Irish banks recently asked me if I could fax a document to them. Fax? I don’t think I’ve used a fax machine since 1994. There is a whole generation of Irish consumers who don’t know what a fax machine is. This generation is unsurprisingly using pure on-line banks like the Berlin based N26.
The move to web-based services and e-signatures is particularly critical in a pandemic when movement is restricted and hygiene a matter of life and death. Most pharmacists now accept prescriptions by email - a very welcome development. It seems bizarre now to think that as recently as last year we were all still presenting scribbled bits of paper from our doctors to the pharmacist before medicines were dispensed.
A few years ago, I inadvertently drove a rental car into a part of an Italian old town centre restricted to traffic. I promptly received a fine by email and paid it seamlessly on-line within minutes. In Ireland, the Gardai website offers the following options for paying fines: by telephone, in person or by post with unfortunately no option for on-line payment.
Many OneBigSwitch members are small business owners and will know that the Companies Registration Office (CRO) still requires annual filings to be made on paper with wet ink signatures. This is the way it has always been done. The CRO have had 21 years to consider alternatives with e-signatures, they really should be getting on with a better solution at this stage.
The list goes on. A recently published Government Policy Report states that priority should be given to the “Option for digital signatures for all Government, agency and local authority contracts”. This is a welcome announcement; hopefully public bodies will implement the changes before the pandemic is over.
At OneBigSwitch we try to work with suppliers that simplify interactions with members by using e-signatures and on-line services. Have you experienced being asked for a signature on paper or asked to fill out paper forms recently? Share your experiences in the comment section below.