Bridge Advisory and Consulting, together with DocuSign, the World’s No.1 Electronic Signature and Agreement Cloud recently hosted a webinar on “Electronic Signatures and Agreement Cloud – The Relevance for Sri Lanka”. The discourse addressed key areas on the background and legality of using e-signatures in Sri Lanka, why it should be a commonality, and covered the key attributes relating to e-signature adoption. The webinar also explored how e-signatures can be used in the Banking and Financial Sector to streamline workflow and contract management thereby increasing efficiencies significantly.
Held virtually on the 15th of June 2022, the webinar featured Mr. Jayantha Fernando, Director – Sri Lanka CERT & General Counsel ICTA, Mr. Revan Weerasinghe, Attorney at Law, Mr. Randil Boteju, Senior Vice President – Digital Banking and Acquisitions at Nations Trust Bank PLC and Wilson Oh, Channel Director- Asia for DocuSign.
Commenting on the legality of digital transactions in Sri Lanka, Mr. Jayantha Fernando said “Setting common legal standards for digital transactions have been a subject of discussion for many years. The earlier standard was the UNCITRAL Model Law on electronic commerce (MLEC) 1996, which was a voluntary soft law standard. In 2005 the UN General Assembly adopted the first ever treaty on digital transactions, known as the UN Electronic Communications Convention.” Mr. Fernando referred to this as the Ecommerce law 2.0 or the International GOLD Standard governing this subject area. This establishes rules for the formation and validity of electronic contracts concluded electronically, legal recognition of electronic signatures and for the functional equivalents of paper based & original documents. Sri Lanka became the first in South Asia to adopt this gold standard, and amended the Electronic Transactions Law through amending Act No 25 of 2017 to comply with this standard, stated Mr. Fernando
Mr. Revan Weerasinghe said that the relevance of e-signatures today is far more than ever before, considering today’s business landscape amidst the economic crisis. Referring to the Electronic Transactions Act, he commented “Section 11 sets out the basis of electronic contracts recognized and accepted by the Law, and should not be denied legal recognition, validity, or enforceability on the ground that it is in electronic form. Section 7 of the Act refers to e-signatures, which are considered as a tool to authenticate documents, and has the same validity as a wet signature on dotted line and can be produced in court”.
Mr. Wilson Oh mentioned that is imperative that we work towards achieving a paperless economy. He said that not every company has digitized contract process and are still manual which involve a lot of human intervention – resulting in pain points such as high operating costs, slow turnaround time, high risk due to less security and less court admissible evidence. “DocuSign Agreement cloud is a platform for contract automation helping you to prepare, manage, sign and act on contracts. Based on global statistics, more than 80% of contracts can be completed within one day. All transactions have proper audit trail and document is tamper proof, adhering to operation and compliance risk”.
Mr. Randil Boteju said “Traditionally wet signatures were a necessity to do basic transactions but today most of the Banks have and should evolve into electronic signatures. Customers are also now pushing Banks to evolve and are comparing banking systems to different digital experiences they are receiving across other industries and through apps. As a result, they want same experience delivered by banking system”.
“It is important to digitalize our processes and transactions and the use of e-signature’s will significantly impact banking sector by increasing efficiency, reducing operating costs and inefficient processes that cause customer inconvenience. At NTB, a physical process which required a wet signature for account opening that took 48 hours for full process completion, now can be achieved in around ten minutes.” Mr. Boteju emphasized that it is time for Banks to accept e-signatures and encourage implementation as the legislation rightly allows so.
Responding to a question, as to whether e-signed documents are allowed to be stored on the cloud or need to be stored on premise, Mr. Jayantha said that Sri Lanka has adopted international standards through the ETA. “If technology used can maintain integrity of the electronic record, then it would meet the same standard as an original document. On premise or cloud storage is a matter of choice for the organization.”
Operating as ‘new economy’ specialists, Bridge Advisory and Consulting bring awareness on future proof technologies, enabling the nation to move forward into the new economy through digital innovations. The webinar was organized with the intent of creating awareness and understanding on the legality and implementation of e-signatures in Sri Lanka, to drive further adoption across both enterprise and government levels, enhancing convenience by streamlining operations to achieve greater efficiencies.
The webinar is available for viewing on the Bridge Advisory and Consulting YouTube page, via Electronic Signatures and Agreement Cloud: Relevance for Sri Lanka . Feel free to visit https://bridge-it.biz/ for further information.