SignFlow broadens horizons, rebrands as SigniFlow

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SignFlow rebrandWe have spread our wings and taken to international shores…introducing our new, fresh look.

As a South African technology team with a spirit of innovation at the heart of our being, change and growth are two things we at SignFlow prize very highly.

Which is why we are so excited to announce that SignFlow has spread its wings, recently journeying beyond the African continent, into Europe, the United Kingdom and the Americas.

As an embodiment of this globalisation, we have decided to consolidate our local and international branding, which goes hand in hand with a fresh new look – including an awesome new website and epic new logo…

Introducing SigniFlow

The international offering of SignFlow (.co.za) is called SigniFlow (.com), which – as of May 2018 – is officially the successor to SignFlow.

While all old and existing marketing and training material and other content will still be branded as SignFlow – along with the old logo and look – it all remains 100% relevant.

SignFlow has been around for a few years, having made indelible footprints in cyber space, so the transition to SigniFlow is going to take some time. Our focus right now is on all of our branding going forward, so all new material and content will be branded SigniFlow.

What does this mean for you?

Well, to cite Coca-Cola, “Brand new look. Same great taste.”

SigniFlow, like SignFlow, is still the same world-class, local solution it has always been – just with a facelift. Think of it as a better looking version of the same great product.

SigniFlow is still Proudly South African. Nothing in terms of ownership of SignFlow has changed. SigniFlow – the new, fresh-faced SignFlow – is a 100% South African-owned product.

SigniFlow is also proudly protective of what matters most our customers: sensitive data. In terms of the storage of and access to your valuable files and data, fear not – this, too, remains unchanged. Your files are exactly where they were before, and still just as safe and secure as they have always been, in our South African data centres.

Finally, putting the cherry on top of this exciting transformation, the South African SigniFlow system is currently being revamped, and will be updated with the release of SigniFlow v4.0 during the third quarter of 2018.

Exciting times ahead, indeed. Onward and upward!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or for more information on 010 300 4899 or support@signflow.co.za.

Data protection: SA companies need to take a global stance

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how-to-comply-with-the-data-protection-act-457501399With the implementation of the EU’s data protection laws just around the corner, local entities need to study up on how it could affect them.

D-day for implementation of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just three months away – and South African organisations are by no means off the hook.

If you are a South African entity that handles individuals’ personal data, you will be acutely aware of our country’s data protection law – the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act – but have you considered how the looming GDPR affects the way you manage clients’ personal information?

The fact of the matter is, if you are a locally-based business that offers goods or services to EU customers, you also deal with personal information or data relating to EU citizens’ – and you are just as responsible for complying with the GDPR as any EU business.

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at customer communication firm PBSA, points out that any entity controlling or processing data relating to EU citizens is affected by the GDPR. “Controlling refers to any organisation that states why and how data is processed, while a processor is any party doing the actual processing of the data, whether based in the EU, or not.”

GDPR vs POPI

Van der Merwe says it is crucially important for local companies with dealings abroad to do their homework and familiarise themselves with the GDPR’s ground rules. “Companies could be fined heavily under GDPR regulations if they fail to provide evidentiary and auditable processes, as well as adequate IT security, to protect personal data.”

The GDPR is a regulation borne out of the European Parliament, Council of the European Union and European Commission’s joint intent to strengthen and unify data protection EU citizens.

Non-compliance with the GDPR comes with a hefty fine of up to €20 million (about R290 million) – or 4% of annual sales.

Similar to SA’s POPI Act, the GDPR is all about data protection. Data includes things like a person’s name, email address and phone number, as well as information collected by website cookies like internet browsing habits.

Breaching rules laid out in the POPI Act comes with a R10 million fine and/or a jail sentence.

Van der Merwe summarises the parallels between the two data-protection directives: “POPI and GDPR are similar, in that they both aim to strengthen the protection of personal information. They differ in their approach, in that the GDPR takes a wider, more global perspective that includes anyone, anywhere either controlling or processing – or both – data relating to EU citizens.”

Auditable business processes

A big part of compliance, when it comes to both the POPI Act and the GDPR, specifically involves audit trails – something PBSA’s digital signature and workflow product, SignFlow, is heavily centred on.

For evidentiary purposes and in order for any company to assert GDPR compliance, the automated management of an audit trail is imperative.

Van der Merwe says SignFlow is can assist customers in their strategy to automate and digitise processes in a responsible and compliant manner. “Business Process Automation is at the forefront of our technology development at SignFlow, including tools like DocFlow, CaseFlow and our digital customer on-boarding tools.”

At the core of SignFlow, he says, is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). “PKI manages users’ private keys, and signs and secures documents using Public Key Cryptography. Not only does this make documents tamper-evident after they’ve been signed, but the entire operation is conducted in a secure network over encrypted secure socket layers between the public, personal devices and private servers.”

Unlike paper files and systems managing email attachments, this portal fully controls and audits the workflow and communication channels between interacting parties. “This greatly reduces the risk of data leaks,” says van der Merwe.

“The system enhances non-repudiation, creating a digital trail of undeniable events that prove intent and identity.”

With GDPR set to come into effect on 25 May 2018, and the high stakes attached to non-compliance, South African companies simply cannot afford not to take a global view on data protection. “The protection of personal information goes far beyond just the POPI Act for local companies dealing with international customers,” says van der Merwe.

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. Digiday – For the GDPR-curious: WTF is the Article 29 Working Party?
  2. The Digiday Guide to GDPR (PDF)
  3. The Sun – What is GDPR, what does it stand for, when is the deadline in 2018 and how can you check if a business is compliant?
  4. Michalsons – What does the GDPR mean for the POPI Act?
    POPI commencement date or POPI effective date starts the clock
  5. Wikipedia – General Data Protection Regulation
  6. IOL – Protection of Personal Information Act soon to become a reality
  7. ITWeb – Unpacking the POPI Act: The ins and outs of protecting personal information

Draftworx, SignFlow integration yields SA first

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A recent partnership between the two software platforms brings a cutting-edge automation solution to the accounting and auditing industry.

In a move that has seen the birth of cutting-edge technology – the first of its kind in South Africa – SignFlow has partnered with Draftworx, addressing a critical need identified among auditors and corporate companies that draft financial statements.

Draftworx provides automated drafting and working paper financial software to more than 2 500 accounting and auditing firms. The company went to market six and a half years ago, bringing the industry easy-to-learn and easy-to-use automation software, which allows  accountants and auditors to generate International Financial Reporting Standards  (IFRS)/IFRS SME compliant financial statements and ISA audit, review, and compilation engagement compliance.

According to Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at SignFlow parent company PBSA, the integration between the two software platforms came about when a massive need among auditors and corporates that prepare their own financial statements was identified – that of automating and digitising the process of getting financial statements and engagement documents signed off by company directors.

“Auditors can now automate and digitise their document delivery processes using the DigiSign module in the Draftworx platform to distribute documents electronically for customers to sign, using legally binding SignFlow digital signatures. The distribution and signing process is completely digital and auditable, entirely removing the need to print, scan and deliver paper-based financial statements and engagement contracts.”

Draftworx CEO Earl Steyn says the company, which aims to be in the cloud by year-end, sees SignFlow becoming one of its core technologies and marketing advantages. “Accountants and auditors can reduce time wastage – as well as waiting periods – by having their clients sign all their documentation offsite and at their leisure.”

Steyn adds his experience with SignFlow – a locally developed and internationally recognised digital signature and workflow solution – has been “phenomenal”. He says the team pays attention to detail and is willing to customise SignFlow to Draftworx and its clients’ requirements.

Van der Merwe says the SignFlow team is proud to be associated with Draftworx software, “which is leading the way in IFRS/IFRS SME compliant financial statements and ISA audit software in South Africa and across Africa”.

ACS partnership bolsters digital certificate security

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SignFlow has teamed up with Altech Card Solutions to offer Thales hardware security modules to its digital signature customers.

In a move that will see users’ private keys and personal digital certificates receiving a serious security boost, SignFlow has partnered with Altech Card Solutions (ACS), a division of Altron TMT, to offer Thales HSMs (hardware security modules) to digital signature customers.

Using SignFlow’s PKCS#11 cryptographic interface, SignFlow uses Thales NShield Connect HSMs to perform highly specialised cryptographic operations, and to fully manage and secure private keys and personal digital certificates.

Head of digital at SignFlow’s parent company PBSA, Leon can der Merwe, says the partnership with ACS sees SignFlow extending its integration reach to include the Thales NShield range of network attached, FIPS 140-2 Level 3 HSMs.

“Apart from deploying the NShield devices in the highly-secure SignFlow Cloud, we now also offer the NShield range to corporate customers who would like to localise and manage their SignFlow private keys in private data centres.”

The SignFlow HSMs are directly integrated with multiple local and global CA’s (Certificate Authorities) to offer stringent, legally compliant Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES), Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) and Adobe Approved Trust List (AATL) certificates, which are applied to documents through its digital signature application.

A division of Altron TMT (Pty) Ltd, ACS was formed in 1993 and is today firmly established as a leading player in the secure electronic transactions market.

It is Thales’ established track record in the payments security space and global footprint in hardware and software encryption solutions that makes this partnership so advantageous, says ACS.

SignFlow, an enterprise-class digital signature and document workflow application, was born in a digital era that has seen new business opportunities emerging as paper-based systems are replaced by digital platforms.

SignFlow digital signatures are powered by robust public-key infrastructure (PKI) technology, which is recognised as best practice for ensuring digital accountability. SignFlow digital signatures offer an effective, secure and legally compliant method of providing accountability during electronic transactions.

“Our partnership with ACS will benefit customers across the spectrum – including consumers using SignFlow’s SignFREE to sign documents, businesses using the SignFlow Cloud to distribute documents and government and corporate institutions using SignFlow’s Enterprise Hybrid Servers and Private Network Servers to digitally sign and workflow documents for sign-offs,” says Van der Merwe.

SignFlow enables Group Signing for mandate registers

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group meeting eOur leading digital signature technology is further diversified with the addition of a feature enabling mandated group signing.

Our digital signature solution has just become more powerful with the addition of Group Signing – a parallel workflow feature for mandate registers.

The SignFlow team has been hard at work, as always, advancing what is already a world-class digital signing and workflow solution, to give our users a top-notch experience, with everything they need to do business at their fingertips.

The latest addition to the SignFlow set of business tools, Group Signing, is a valuable and efficient tool for companies with mandate registers (people in an organisation that are authorised to sign off certain key documents).

Unlike a sequential workflow, in which a document in need of a signature/signatures is distributed to a number of people, one after the next, Group Signing is a parallel workflow feature – meaning a number of people will receive a document at the same time.

Characteristically SignFlow, this new feature is completely user-friendly and the process quick and painless.

Let’s take facility letters sent out by banks to illustrate the process. There may be ten directors that have signed a mandate authorising them to sign annual facility letters, but the bank only requires signatures from two directors. The bank would then set up a group called “Company Directors”, for instance, and load all ten directors as signers. The document is prepared with two signature fields and sent to all directors simultaneously. As soon as any two of the ten have signed, quorum is reached and the workflow is complete (or, depending on how it is set up, it may continue to completion).

What makes SignFlow’s Group Signing feature unique, is the fact that it allows a combination of sequential and parallel workflow – also known as Advanced Routing – which lets users combine individual signers and group sign-offs, in a single workflow configuration.

The addition of Group Signing follows two other game-changing features that were built into the SignFlow application recently, namely Face-to-face Signing and Geolocation.

IT-ONLINE – Simplifying loans applications with digital signature workflow

Posted by IT-Online on Sep 30, 2015

loan applicationFor financial institutions, loans are an essential part of their business, writes Avi Rose, regional sales manager for Africa at DocuSign and Leon van der Merwe, business development manager at Pitney Bowes.

From home loans to vehicle finance, personal loans to credit applications and everything in between, many applications for these services must be processed on a daily basis. The challenge is that at some point in any loan or credit application, one or more physical signatures are required. This has typically meant moving out of electronic channels into manual, paper-based processes. It not only breaks the digital workflow, it is also exceptionally time consuming and paper-intensive, not to mention costly.

In addition, the manual signatory process often negatively impacts the customer experience by requiring the signing parties to be physically present at the financial institution’s branch,  a major inconvenience for customers. However, this issue is one that can be dealt with very easily by adding a digital signature solution to the process. These solutions are fully compliant with all relevant legislation, such as the ECT Act, and eliminate the need to print documents and collect ink-based signatures. This improves the customer experience, reduces the time taken to process loans and cuts costs amongst other benefits.

Traditional ‘wet ink’ signatures introduce inefficiencies into automated and digital workflows, wasting time and money and increasing a company’s carbon footprint. Ensuring that the entire workflow can be completed electronically solves these challenges and improves the firm’s competitive edge, as the ability to more easily and quickly complete applications is not only of significant benefit to customers but also to the financial institution itself.

Up until recently there has been no solution to the challenge of digitising legacy wet-ink signature processes. However, the Electronic Communications and Transmissions (ECT) Act makes allowances for the legal digital signing of documents. Specifically, advanced electronic signatures are now legally valid on documents such as credit agreements, which require a high level of assurance of user authentication. Advanced electronic signature solutions offer certificate-based digital signatures that are legally enforceable because they protect the integrity of the document and the authenticity of the signer.

This in turn ensures that the entire applications workflow can be digitised, which offers numerous advantages. The most obvious saving that can be realised here comes through reductions in the use of paper and ink, as well as in printer and courier costs. In addition, employee effort can be significantly reduced – there is no longer any need to print documents, get them signed, and then scan them back in to put them back into the various digital workflow channels.

The most significant benefit, however, is the significant time saving advantage. With current manual signature processes, it takes days, sometimes weeks, to add all the information and signatures to the required documentation, not to mention the need to send documents back and forth via fax or post. With an advanced electronic signature solution, this time frame can be reduced to a matter of minutes, as these solutions can be integrated into an automated digital platform that efficiently manages document workflow.

For example, a portal can be created where all relevant parties access a single entry point and digitally sign the document with a compliant electronic signature. After authenticating themselves, the required signatories can access this portal from wherever they are in the world, without having to be physically present in a bank or branch office, removing bottlenecks and delays, and improving the efficiency of the entire process. This also ensures that issues with having multiple document versions are eliminated, optimising storage and archiving while also providing a complete audit trail and improving process transparency.

For customers this is a game-changing solution, as one of the biggest hassles and frustrations with financial applications is the time-consuming and inconvenient nature of the process. Using digital signature workflows, financial institutions can gain a significant edge over the competition. The benefits are significant and the business case for electronic signatures is strong, as can be seen by the rapid uptake of such solutions across Europe and the US.

In South Africa, legislation supports the use of advanced and ordinary electronic signatures, and we are currently at a turning point where adoption is imminent. Financial institutions of all sizes, from major banks to micro lenders, stand to benefit from architecturally sound, secure and scalable digital signature workflow solutions that can provide a competitive edge and significantly enhance customer service.

IT ONLINE – New digital signature tech from Pitney Bowes

Electronic signatures in South Africa

Posted by IT-Online on Aug 6, 2014 in Document Management, Technology Areas

itologoPitney Bowes South Africa, a leading provider of customer communication solutions, in partnership with ARX Cosign, the market leader in digital signature technology, has launched a powerful, integrated solution which streamlines and digitises document signing processes.

This new, ground-breaking technology – called ‘CoSign Click’ – is set to revolutionise how companies ‘on-board’ new customers. This is achieved through the elimination of the cumbersome and time-consuming manual process of printing out forms, signing in pen, scanning and uploading or emailing the document.

Leon van der Merwe, business development manager at Pitney Bowes South Africa, explains: “Co-Sign Click is a digital signature solution which enables a company’s customers to sign on-line documents and forms electronically without them requiring a digital signature or any hardware signing device.

“Until now, signing electronically with a digital signature was only available to licensed subscribers of digital signature applications. This new technology is great news for companies requiring customers to provide a once-off signature on a document or form.”

Pitney Bowes is the first company to introduce CoSign Click to South Africa, and is excited to introduce the numerous benefits of digital signature technology to local businesses.

“In South African law there are certain statutes that require a signature before a document can be considered valid. If this signature is to be applied electronically, the Electronic Communications and Transaction (ECT) Act of 2002 refers to an ‘Advanced’ Electronic Signature (AeS) and is the only type of electronic signature that is recognised as legally acceptable.

The partnership with ARX offers our customers a legally compliant solution for digitally signing documents which can then be seamlessly integrated with their Electronic Document Management system,” says Van der Merwe.

He explains how it works: “There are three areas in which the technology ensures compliance, which we refer to as the three ‘I’s’: intent (to sign), identity (of the signer) and integrity (of the document). After a person electronically signs a document the content of the document is protected. If changes are made to the signed document, the signature will no longer be valid.”

“Digital signatures have become increasingly necessary in today’s international and local business world, as companies strive to automate and streamline their systems.

These include local government and financial services businesses, one of which has been able to reduce their customer on-boarding process from a time-consuming paper-based system taking 5 to 7 days down to 40 minutes.
CoSign Click therefore provides a slick alternative to what has historically been a paper-intense and inefficient process. This requires no printing or scanning, does not waste time, and essentially provides an end-to-end solution which completely digitises the customer on-boarding process.
“Form-filling can be a very cumbersome process, for both companies and their customers. In the light of this, our collaboration with ARX offers South African businesses very real and tangible benefits. We offer companies a quick, safe and efficient system that we believe will transform the way in which many organisations interact with their customers – which in South Africa has historically been a very paper-based business culture.

“Pitney Bowes SA has helped companies for many years to enhance their customer communications capabilities. Part of Pitney Bowes Incorporated – the global business solutions provider – Pitney Bowes SA is at the leading edge of digital signature technology in this country,” Van der Merwe concludes.