A signature represents the confirmation of the signatory’s will, and acts as an important guarantor.
1. Evolution of the human signature method
In our previous article ‘The Wet. The Dry And There’s SelfieSign’, we have covered the topic of how the human signature method has evolved since ancient times, starting from the paper signature which has a history of more than a thousand years, to the digital signature, electronic signature, and now we have video electronic signature. What stays the same is how a signature always works as a proof of willingness, an agreement indicator of the signer. It could be said that the establishment of our current modern world is built on countless signatures.
Nowadays, the shift from paper signature to electronic signature has gradually been accepted and normalized. But although electronic signature has a lot of advantages in terms of cost, environment, and management efficiency, concerns about security, legal issues, counterfeiting, and fraud still exist.
2. Limitation of digital signature
In the past, the Taiwan government had made an effort to use digital certificates such as Digital ID card and Citizen Digital Certificates to increase the efficiency of government operation. However, after 20 years since the issuance of the citizen digital certificate, its usage is still uncommon in society, leading to its controversial suspension.
Citizen digital certificate requires the user to use a card reader and download software for identity authentication. Due to the inconvenience, only about 3 million users still hold valid citizen digital certificates. Although the Taiwan government has been promoting the "mobilization of citizen digital certificates" since this year, there are still problems such as the troublesome certification process and the need for frequent re-authentication.
The Taiwan government also hoped that digital ID card can integrate with the digital signature technology, but it was forced to be suspended due to public doubt of ‘lacking the exceptional circumstances law, ‘lack of the commission for personal data protection”, and ‘high risk of information security’. One of the controversial points is the validity and risk of digital signatures, which makes it difficult for all sectors of society to reach a consensus.
Digital signature relies solely on the certificate holder's ability to collect necessary data for authentication, such as passwords, PKI chips, data storage drives, or mobile phones, all those methods are third-party data or objects that indirectly confirm whether the signer is the person holding the certificate, without leaving any evidence of biometric characteristic for signer verification. It will be hard to provide the proof of signing process as the guarantee of validity.
In addition, not only that the government still have more than 100 exclusion clauses for digital signatures, but society is also still lacking confidence in digital signatures. Most important documents and transactions in Taiwan still rely on paper signatures.
3. Limitation of regular electronic signature
Nowadays, there are many electronic signature solutions on the market, offering convenience, multi-factor authentication ability, and even government ID authentication. But as mentioned above, the various authentication methods are still indirect methods to prove signatory identity. When a dispute occurs, the signing process wouldn’t be able to be provided as proof of signature authenticity.
An electronic signature-related fraud case occurred in New South Wales, Australia in 2020 (Marketlend Pty Ltd v. Blackburn  NSWDC 358 (July 9, 2020)). A couple took out a loan from Marketlend, a credit company, for their campervan company, but after some time, they are actually separated. Marketlend agreed to the loan and sent the loan documents to the husband's e-mail, requesting the contract to be signed with a well-known electronic signature platform. Although both of them have their own account in this electronic signature software platform, all loan documents are signed by the wife’s account solely, and Marketlend has never done any direct confirmation to the wife whether the signature is signed by herself or anything about her physical and mental state during the signing process.
Unfortunately, the campervan company went out of business. When the assets were being settled, the husband declared bankruptcy and Marketlend demanded repayment of the loan exceeding US$ 700.000 (Approximately NT$ 20.54 million) from the wife, correlating to the fact that all contracts were signed with the wife’s account.
At the end of the case, by investigating the records of the electronic signature software and the location of the mobile phone, the court finally confirmed that the husband had logged into the wife's account to sign the loan documents without the wife being aware of this. The signatures were therefore ruled invalid and the wife was not required to repay the loans.
In this case, even though this electronic signature software log-in process has a two-stage authentication via email, the husband had access to log in to the e-mail, making this authentication ineffective. We can learn that although regular electronic signature software is a solution that provides convenience, the security factor which is the most important thing is not rigorous enough, making it fail to eliminate risks such as account theft. This case almost causes harm to both parties, for the wife a big debt for the rest of her life, and the loan company for the loss of a big amount of money.
4. The Possibilities Dynamic Biometrics Electronic Signature Offers
Lately, with the advent of many novel technologies such as face recognition, fingerprint verification, and iris recognition, ‘biometric’ has become one of the most popular topics for its diverse application in the digital world for security and payment.
Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals to achieve the purpose of identification and authentication either it is physiological or behavioral. The physiological sources of information can be but are not limited to fingerprints, palm veins, face recognition, DNA, palm print, hand geometry, iris recognition, retina, odor/scent, and facial recognition. The behavioral sources of information can be voiceprints, keyboard tapping habits, and signing habits.
Biological information can serve as identification and evidence in the event of disputes. There’s one case that becomes the public topic of conversation lately, regarding the inheritance of the property of Chang Yung-fa, the president of Evergreen Group. In this case, one of the key points why the fourth son, Chang Kuo-wei won the lawsuit in the first instance of the Taipei District Court is that the forensic bureau determines that the signature on Chang Yung-fa's will is a valid signature by himself. However, the only biological information that can prove the validity of Chang Yung-fa's will is only a paper signature signed by Chang Yung-fa himself. There is no other biological information such as video and audio recordings to prove his physical and mental state during the signing process, making the lawsuit still controversial and the relationship between the Chang brothers remains tense.
5. The revolutionary human signature method: SelfieSign
It can be concluded from the article that the paper signature is outdated, the digital signature is troublesome to use, and the general electronic signature has personal information security issues that can not be flawlessly solved yet. However, with the rapid development of modern society and the economy, whether it is related to the government or private business, the demand for document signing will only spike. If there is no revolutionary product to become the ultimate signing solution, "signature" will one day become an obstacle to the development of our society.
SelfieSign focuses to tackle the core problem of those previously signature methods, and provides a solution： “non-repudiation”. By video and audio recording the signing process, and adding time stamps, GPS location, IP address, biometric information, etc., the “digital proof of willingness” can be fully expressed.
Every signature retrieved by SelfieSign will contain a video and audio recording of the signing process that can be replayed, without using the multi-factor verification process, this method can directly prove the signer’s healthy physical and clear mental state during the signing process. Documents can be sent via SMS, email, QRcode, etc., and can be signed remotely anywhere and anytime.
SelfieSign's multi-national patented technology complies with Taiwan's "Electronic Signature Law" and the European Union's "eIDAS Advanced Electronic Signature Authentication" regulation. We believe that SelfieSign can be the revolutionary method of human signature that already has thousand years of history, making every signature an impeccable and unquestionable seal of important information on all documents, protecting the rights and interests of all parties involved.