International firm opens office in Horsham

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Published by West Sussex County Times on 15 November 2019

SigniFlow Directors AGS 2019

After opening their first UK office in Horsham on September 1, SigniFlow, celebrated in style this week, by holding their official launch event at the South Lodge Hotel.

With SigniFlow top management flying in from South Africa, Australia and the United States to attend, there was no doubt as to the significance of the UK launch for this international company.

South African director, Leon Van Der Merwe, was quick to commend the warm reception the team received from the Horsham business community, before asserting that ‘modern businesses had to move forward with technology in order to survive in the modern world’.

Attended by many of SigniFlow’s existing Sussex customers, along with local businesses keen to modernize their procedures and increase productivity, the launch event was abuzz with talk of digital innovation. SigniFlow, which has its roots in South Africa, rapidly reduces the costs, time and money spent on processing, managing and physically signing paper documents, through the use of unique, legally approved cryptographic digital signatures.

“Located in the heart of Sussex, with the county being widely recognised as being a hub for technology and digital advancement, Horsham is the perfect fit for us,” said Greig Orrell, Director of GB and EU Sales and Business Development. “Our worldwide ethos is to support our local and regional communities and our Horsham team will be expanding in the months to come. This is the first of many satellite offices, and we look forward to seeing our team continue to develop and grow accordingly, as they have across the world.”

Already benefiting from SigniFlow’s next generation E-Signer and Document Management technology, Anthony Neal from Maylark Property Management, was keen to talk about how the solution had already worked for their business, just months after deployment. “This unique system has saved us a huge amount of time and its ability to track, file and document our workflows is impressive. All signature requiring documents can now be emailed, and our clients are able to securely and digitally sign the paperwork without the need for an appointment. And, we can access this web-based service from all of our phones, iPad or PCs, so we can respond and sign paperwork whilst out of the office too.”

Recently lauded as being one of the most revolutionary women in IT security, SigniFlow Americas CEO Laila Robak – who is also head of SigniFlow’s cyber security development – is a firm believer in the “better safe than sorry” approach when it comes to the security of companies’ data. And for businesses that do have cyber security as one of their primary concerns, SigniFlow has you covered, with solutions that have been developed by some of the greatest minds in the information technology arena.

For more information and a free trial of the SigniFlow solution, please contact Greig Orrell on 07395 650738, email uk@signiflow.com , or visit http://www.signiflow.co.uk.

E-Invoicing in the spotlight

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e-invoicing 20-8-2019 smOver 50 countries across the world are looking into implementing e-invoicing systems, thanks to the advantages of true electronic billing and invoicing.

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) was brought under the microscope in the United Kingdom in 2014 after the UK Government launched an inquiry into e-invoicing in the public sector, and announced e-invoicing initiatives to be rolled out by April 2019.

At the time, the MP tasked with the inquiry, Stephen McPartland, positioned e-invoicing as a technology that could streamline UK government admin processes “at a stroke”, saving the public sector and its suppliers a minimum of £2 billion a year. “E-invoicing could open up new markets throughout the country and help drive innovation and economic growth.”

This followed a new standard and directive on e-invoicing by the European Parliament in April 2014, which made it mandatory for all EU Member States to adopt a new e-invoicing standard. According to the directive, “all contracting authorities and contracting entities [are to] to receive and process e-invoices complying with the European standard”.

“We live in a world driven by digital innovation where efficiency and productivity benchmark new standards and expectations for business,” states McPartland’s report.

But what does this relatively new billing method – made possible by digital technology – entail, and could it live up to the expectations that have started to gain a foothold not only in the UK and Europe, but in countries all over the world?

A research paper, set to be released in the coming months by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), expounds how mandatory e-invoicing in Peru is helping increase firm sales and tax revenues. “Drawn by its potential to strengthen tax compliance and reduce costs, Peru is among more than 50 countries around the world to have implemented e-invoicing and many others are preparing to follow suit.”

About e-Invoicing

Essentially, an e-invoice is a statement created by suppliers and businesses to send to customers and clients requesting money. Typically, these are sent in PDF form and allow for circumvention of manual paper-based processes and physical paper documents that require a further set of physical procedures.

True e-invoicing – i.e. invoicing that is electronic in nature from start to finish – offers total automation, which in turn enables higher levels of efficiency and productivity, as well as significant financial savings in terms of resources.

Wikipedia defines e-invoicing as a form of electronic billing. “E-invoicing methods are used by trading partners, such as customers and their suppliers, to present and monitor transactional documents between one another and ensure the terms of their trading agreements are being met. These documents include invoices, purchase orders, debit notes, credit notes, payment terms and instructions, and remittance slips.”

The advantages of this system of electronic billing that over 50 countries across the world are looking at implementing, extend to both suppliers and buyers, and broadly include:

  • Process automation, which means time and money savings and, in turn, faster payment time.
  • Less disputes, due to the fact that invoice data is directly transmitted from supplier to customer electronically, creating a full audit trail.
  • Mitigation of human error, thanks to the high level of automation in the invoicing cycle.
  • Better supplier/buyer relationship and improved customer satisfaction, because processes are far more streamlined and reliable.

For more information on the automation of invoices and SigniFlow’s digital business solutions, visit our website, https://signiflow.com/, or contact us on the relevant number below:

International Contact Centre: 002710 300 4899

South Africa: +27(0)11-516-9403

Americas: +1-603-717-4248

United Kingdom: +44(0)208-611-2681

[REFERENCES]  

  1. European Commission – European legislation on e-invoicing
  2. Wikipedia – Electronic Invoicing
  3. Finextra – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, post Brexit
  4. European Union – eInvoicing in United Kingdom
  5. NHS – Is your organisation on board with e-invoicing?
  6. PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line) – e-Invoicing explained
  7. NHS – NHS Shared Business Services eInvoicing Information Guide for Suppliers (PDF)
  8. Future-Focused Finance – eInvoicing: a win-win for providers and commissioners
  9. IMF – Electronic invoicing reform in Peru paying off
  10. Finextr – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, Post Brexit
  11. tips – Electronic Invoicing: The next steps towards digital government (2014 Report following Inquiry into electronic invoicing (‘eInvoicing’) in the UK public sector.)
  12. EUR-Lex – Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on electronic invoicing in public procurement

Top ten benefits of digital signatures

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We have compiled a list of the main benefits we’ve seen from companies that have implemented digital signature solutions.  

Blog Digital Signature benefits

The technology we have at our disposal today makes for exciting times, with ever-evolving digital tools drastically changing the way business is done.

As an international provider of digital solutions, SigniFlow is grateful to be at the forefront of this exciting era, and to see the different ways in which our solutions empower businesses of all sizes to streamline processes, become compliant and ultimately serve their customers better.

On the back of this, we’ve put together a list of the top ten benefits we have seen at play in the businesses we serve with our solutions, which have secure digital signatures at their core.

  1. Document Security. Nobody wants to have to go into crisis management mode when important paper documents are stolen, misplaced or destroyed due to a fire, flood or other unforeseen disaster. The fact is, these things happen – and prevention is always better than cure. Digital document management and storage eliminates the chances of physical records going missing or being destroyed.
  2. Company image. Using digital signatures and finalising contracts and agreements so much faster than expectations have always dictated shows clients your business has the latest technology in place, and is serious about efficiency. For one of our clients, the fact that they used a digital signature and workflow solution turned out to be a differentiator when it came to them getting a deal.
  3. Corporate social responsibility. There is without doubt increased awareness and a higher expectation for companies to be environmentally aware nowadays. Using digital signatures and supporting a paperless business model demonstrates that you as a company are aware of the impact using paper has on the environment, and willing to employ solutions to minimise damage. Paper pollution causes serious adverse effects to the quality of air, water and land around us. Not only is discarded paper a major component of landfill sites, paper recycling in itself is a major source of pollution, given all the sludge that is produced during de-inking.
  4. Time management. There is nothing more time consuming – not to mention frustrating – than having to spend hours searching for physical documents that went through a lengthy manual signing, managing & storing process – and straight into a proverbial black hole. Digital Signatures turn hours – sometimes days or even weeks – into mere minutes by allowing you to quickly find the required documents, on a secure server, and then action them.
  5. Simplification of processes. One of our recently acquired customers were pleasantly surprised to see how simple going digital and paperless was, and how quickly our solution was able to save them time and money by simplifying day-to-day business processes. “We initially thought the change to digital processes would complicate things and take so much time to implement, but it turns out it was simpler than any single manual process we’ve done in the past, and our employees were happy and quick to get on board and move away from old manual contract signing and filing systems.”
  6. Customer satisfaction. We love to hear feedback from our customers about their customers, because we understand how much value a customer holds for a company. While organisations stand to benefit hugely from going paperless – in both monetary and time-saving terms – the customers they serve reap just as many rewards, including convenience, speed and efficiency. At the end of the day, a happy customer means a happy bottom line.
  7. Eradication of fraud. It’s no secret that any semi-skilled con artist can forge a physical signature. Digital signatures completely eliminate the risk of forgery, because they are backed by a unique digital identity, based on globally accepted Public Key Infrastructure standards. There is no higher level of security when it comes to signing a document.
  8. Legality. One of the things we frequently get asked by customers, is whether digital signatures are legally valid across all parts of the world. The answer is yes. SigniFlow digital signatures were developed with both security and compliance at their core, and are compliant with European, US, South African and international regulations for electronic transactions and trust services. Our solution uses state-of-the-art digital cryptographic signature technology that allows businesses and their customers to sign documents remotely and securely, with the sound knowledge that they are signing with signatures that are legally binding.
  9. Money savings. This is probably the most immediately raved about benefit see when companies deploy digital signatures. Apart from the obvious money-saving benefits that come with not having to print documents out, such as no more paper, ink, printers and maintenance, there are other associated cost savings enabled by digital document management and storage, such as needing less physical office space (which is often one of the biggest expenses a company has), and document distribution.
  10. Audit trails. In business, the ability to trace documents to their origin is crucial – not only for internal records, but also for the sake of transparency, compliance and protection of company information. Our digital signature workflow system provides businesses with a full digital audit trail, kept with documents in the SigniFlow workspace, stored on secure servers.

For more information on our solutions, visit our website www.signiflow.com or contact us by submitting an online query HERE or calling us: International Contact Centre Tel: 002710 300 4899 / From South Africa Tel: 011 516 9403.

Electronic vs Digital Signatures: Defining the Difference

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electronic vs digital signatures EDITED“Electronic” and “digital” are often used as interchangeable prefixes to the word “signature” – but there are vast differences between the two.

We are all familiar with, and have at some stage in our daily goings-on, dealt with the traditional “wet-ink” signature. In today’s digitally-charged world, however, this is fast becoming obsolete as more secure, efficient means of signing documents are developed.

A signature is essentially a means of binding an individual to the contents of a document, by way of an intentional mark. It typically signifies knowledge, approval, acceptance, or obligation.

That may be common knowledge, however, the advent of the digital signature has turned the humble handwritten signature on its head, introducing a number of new (and entirely exciting) facets, including a whole new set of terminology.

A digital signature, in its base form, is a digital code created and authenticated by public key encryption, which is attached to an electronic document to verify its contents and the sender’s identity.

But, largely dependent on where you are in the world, “digital” and “electronic” are often confused – or wrongly used interchangeably – in both conversation and law. Often described in unison, digital signatures and electronic signatures individually are different technologies, have different meanings, and they carry different legal weight.

So what exactly is the difference then? Let’s demystify this once and for all…

Electronic signatures: The superficial sign

Also referred to as an “ordinary electronic signature”, an electronic signature is generally defined as “Symbols or other data in digital form (whether it be a sound, process or symbol) attached to an electronically transmitted document as verification of the sender’s intent to sign the document”.

There are many different scenarios here. An electronic signature can be as basic as a scanned image of a handwritten (wet-ink) signature that is copied onto a signed document, in Word for example. Another case of an electronic signature would be your name, typed at the end of an email.

An electronic signature can even be verbal, a simple click of a box, or drawn on a hardware device such as a signature pad.

Given the examples above, it is evident that, by the sheer nature of electronic signatures, these types of signatures are difficult to maintain, and proof of identity, security, authentication and integrity is low.

Electronic signatures do not have the ability to lock documents for editing after the signing process, nor do they carry any active verification capability. This leaves documents signed with electronic signatures wide open to fraud and repudiation.

Digital signatures: The cryptographic mark

As alluded to earlier, digital signatures involve cryptography. They are the most advanced and secure type of electronic signature, and they guarantee the contents of a message or document have not been altered in transit.

A digital signature is also referred to as an advanced or secure electronic signature. It is based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, using accredited personal X.509 digital certificates to provide the highest levels of security and universal acceptance.

These electronic signatures on steroids are created using a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code unique to both the signer and the content, so that it cannot be copied, forged or tampered with.

This process provides strong proof of the signer’s identity, protects the data integrity of the document and provides absolute non-repudiation of signed documents.

Digital signatures can be verified without the need for any special proprietary software. Depending on the document format, the latest versions of free Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office application can verify the signature. Simply click directly on the digital signature to view the properties, signer’s identity, time and reason for signing – all of which are embedded in the document.

When a digital signature is applied to a document, a digital certificate is attached to the data being signed into one unique fingerprint, including cryptographic credentials.

That said, it is obvious digital signatures would carry far more legal weight and be preferable should security be even a slight concern.

In a nutshell, you could say electronic signatures verify documents, whereas digital signatures secure documents.

* SigniFlow only utilises Digital signature technology. Every signature on a document signed with SigniFlow is a Digital signature that carries the unique cryptographic credentials of the signer.

[REFERENCES]  

  1. za – Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002
  2. Michalsons – Guide to the ECT Act in South Africa
  3. Difference Between – http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-digital-signature-and-electronic-signature/

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.

Digital signature technology breakthrough for face-to-face signing

face to faceThe SignFlow team has made a technological breakthrough that gives users the ability to carry out face-to-face document signing and turn a simple electronic signature into a certifiable digital signature with a full audit trail, on the fly.

Ideal for face-to-face contractual signing, the new SignFlow feature allows users to have documents signed in a face-to-face environment, with a graphical signature that is linked to the signer’s identity, cellphone number and email address. This provides the SignFlow user the opportunity to witness the signature, which – backed by a digital certificate – is 100% legal.

While the use of electronic signatures obtained via mechanisms such as handheld signature pads is commonplace, SignFlow has taken the practice to the next level and is the only solution on the market that takes an e-signature and turns it into a digital signature, with the signer’s information embedded into a digital certificate.

SignFlow Face-to-Face is not just the scribble of a signature with a mouse – it is a fully-fledged, legally certifiable digital signature with all the security and non-repudiation benefits that come with it.

On top of this, the Face-to-Face signature from SignFlow has all the auditing advantages of a digital signature – another area in which it trumps electronic signatures. This means that, after the document has been signed and the PDF downloaded, the audit trail of the person that signed can be seen in the PDF document – allowing the user to validate the person’s signature using Adobe Acrobat.

A digital signature differs fundamentally from an electronic signature. An electronic signature has no active verification capability built into it – nor does it come with a traceable audit trail – leaving it wide open to fraud and repudiation.

A digital signature, on the other hand, is created using a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code unique to both the signer and the content, so that it cannot be copied, forged or tampered with. In this case there is strong proof of the signer’s identity, and the data integrity of the document is totally protected.

Electronic signatures vs digital signatures

SignFlow LogoWhile many consider electronic signatures and digital signatures as interchangeable terms and, indeed, use them as such, this is not the case. In fact, the two phrases have vastly different meanings – and the respective technologies very different bearings.

Leon van der Merwe, co-founder of workflow and digital signing solution SignFlow, explains: “Depending on where you are in the world, ‘electronic’ -and ‘digital’ -signatures are often mixed in conversation and in law. Although described in unison, they are different technologies, have different meanings and in most countries carry a vastly different legal weight.”

So, what exactly is the difference?

Let’s start with the most commonly used of the two, electronic signatures. An electronic signature (also referred to as an ordinary electronic signature) can be as basic as a scanned image of a wet (hand-written) signature that is copied onto a signed document. These types of signatures are difficult to maintain and proof of identity, security, authentication and integrity is low.

Electronic signatures are often created by hardware signing devices, such as signature pads, which create an image of the signature as a person draws it on the pad.

This image is then transferred onto the document. Verifying the authenticity of the signature at a later stage is difficult and much the same as trying to verify a handwritten signature.

These signatures do not have the ability to lock documents for editing after the signing process. There is no active verification capability built into the applied signature area, leaving it open to fraud and repudiation.

On the other hand, a digital signature (also known as an advanced, standard or secure electronic signature) is based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology using accredited personal X.509 digital certificates to provide the highest levels of security and universal acceptance.

Digital signatures are created using a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code unique to both the signer and the content, so that it cannot be copied, forged or tampered with.

This process provides strong proof of the signer’s identity, protects the data integrity of the document and provides non-repudiation of signed documents.

Digital signatures can be verified without the need for any special proprietary software. Depending on the format of your document, the latest versions of free Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office application can verify the signature. Simply click directly on the digital signature to view the properties, signer’s identity, time and reason for signing – all of which are embedded in the document.

SignFlow only uses Digital signature technology. Every signature on a document signed with SignFlow is a Digital signature that carries the unique cryptographic credentials of the signer.