NewsBig Irish Bank asks me to fax 21 years since E-Signatures were signed into law

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.

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Big Irish Bank asks me to fax 21 years since E-Signatures were signed into law

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Ciaran from WX commented:

It seems paperwork is a big thing for the public service you only have to be in our hospitals to understand how bad it is. What makes things worse is all the best international companies in the world have main bases in Ireland and I have not mentioned our own Irish companies. No excuses and it does not take five years. With a bit of imagination and a determined effort from the government, it could be done within two years. 

Anonymous from TA commented:

To get a free sight test on your Medical card, you must fill in a paper form which is posted to the local HSE office, checked and stamped by hand and posted back to you. You then present that paper form to your Optometrist who provides the service. You sign the form again. The form is then filled in by hand by the Optom. (with 2 signatures again) for payment, and payment is claimed in a long tedious eectronic process, while the paper form is filed by the Optometrist for several years, for possible future audit. Really? Yes!!! 

Anonymous from D commented:

You mention you wish to get feedback on the adoptions of slow technology - well, if it's anything remotely opposite to the destruction of 5g, absoloutely! There's no need to be microwaving the public - 

John from KK commented:

Travel expenses from the Dept of Education for teachers travelling between schools during the day. The DES recently offered a downloadable spreadsheet to replace a paper record of expenses. All was well until I saw the method if returning it signed - print out the eform, wet sign it, scan it back in and email. I declined to do this, saying the paper version was the more efficient if that was the only alternative! John C Kilkenny 

Anonymous from D commented:

I used to work for an online bank in the UK in 2007. I can't believe how many of the services and procedures we had in place then are still not in place in Ireland. When I moved to Ireland in 2012 I opened up a bank account, in person of course. When I wanted to open a joint account with my partner (an existing customer of the bank) we both had to make a separate appointment and go through the full application process again. Last year I became a signatory on the account for our local residents association. The account is with the same bank as my personal account. I had to personally go up to the bank and again go through a full application, including providing proof of address as they couldn't accept their own bank statement for this purpose. The mind boggles! 

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