As 2017 swiftly approaches, curious minds want to know: What will be the next “big” technology to disrupt legal processes and documentation? There is undoubtedly an argument for remote eNotarization, or webcam notarization, which enables a signer to have a document notarized remotely using web conferencing technology and digital signatures.
Remote eNotarization isn’t the first attempt to make the notarization process more cost-effective and less paper-reliant. In 2006, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) developed certain standards for electronic notarization, or eNotarization, which were offered to states for voluntary adoption. This allowed documents to be notarized digitally and signed with e-signatures. However, that process—while electronic—still required the signer to physically appear before the notary.
But, with remote eNotarization, both signers and notaries have the freedom to complete transactions from wherever they happen to be.
The National Notary Association (NNA) recently published a white paper about both types of eNotarization and highlighted the growing support for remote eNotarization. According to the white paper, several influential industry organizations have voiced their support of the technology, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Quicken Loans.
As remote eNotarization is increasingly recognized by industry leaders, it’s sure to gain even more traction in 2017. Indeed, it will undoubtedly become the norm. Here’s why:
Remote eNotarization offers greater security features than a traditional, paper-based notarization. Because the signer is no longer required to physically appear before a notary, he must successfully complete a knowledge-based authentication (KBA) process to verify his identity. KBA presents questions to the signer about information found in 30 years of public records such as details from credit reports, town hall records, public health records and more. In order to obtain access to the document, the signer must correctly answer a certain number of questions within a designated amount of time.
“Proof of a signer’s identity is a crucial element in the security and legality of remote eNotarizations,” said Timothy Reiniger, an attorney specializing in digital identity policy. “One of the main evidentiary concerns for an online transaction is identity authentication, and because an individual’s identity is bound to his digital signature before a notary in a recorded live audio-video conference, legal professionals can be confident in the ability subsequently to have remote eNotarizations enforced.”
Remote eNotarizations leverage digital signature technology—a highly secure form of an electronic signature that embeds the legal evidence of each signature into the signed document.
Additional security measures that accompany a remote eNotarization include a complete audit trail, which tracks the entire signing process and provides details about the transaction, tamper evidence, which indicates if an unauthorized user attempts to alter a document, and the archival of the audio-video recording, which further proves the authenticity of the signing process and acts as a powerful deterrent against committing fraud while being recorded.
Each of these security elements provides powerful, fully accessible pieces of evidence that prove the validity of a transaction if it is ever called into question.
One of the best features of remote eNotarization is the freedom to complete a transaction at any time, from anywhere, as long as there’s internet access. Remote eNotarizations can be performed in a fraction of the time it would take to meet a notary in person, sign the documents, and then drive back. In fact, a typical remote eNotarization takes less than ten minutes.
Speeding up the notarization process enables all of the parties involved to spend less time waiting for approval and more time on what matters most—their work.
The financial benefits of remote eNotarization go far beyond reduced paper usage. Signers save time and money by not having to drive across town to meet with a notary or pay for a mobile notary. Audio-video technology is widely accessible and free to use—so there’s no additional cost required to perform a remote eNotarization transaction.
Because the documents and audio-visual recordings used for remote eNotarizations can be saved digitally, the need for paper storage is dramatically reduced, which is beneficial to both the environment and a company’s bottom line.
According to the NNA, eNotarizations are currently accepted in all states and Washington, D.C. under either the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) or similar state-specific electronic signature laws. Virginia and Montana are the only states that currently allow remote eNotarizations, but Virginia notaries can notarize documents for signers located anywhere in the world. As knowledge of this digital process expands, we can expect to see more widespread use of this technology in the coming years.