Business Transactions in the Time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things about the world in a short period of time. Even as 2020 winds down, many people are still working from home and several states and municipalities still have strict social distancing guidelines in place. Businesses have had to adapt accordingly, exploring a variety of options to keep them connected to their clients, employees, and customers.
For many companies, the current remote work arrangement might well become business as usual for the foreseeable future. Major companies like Twitter, Slack, and Facebook have already begun transitioning their offices to a permanent “work from home” situation. Another group of companies, such as Google, Viacom, and Indeed, are planning to keep employees home until at least 2021. Many companies, however, have been forced to take the same approach as JP Morgan, which has required some employees to return while telling others to work remotely for the rest of 2020.
Challenges of Conducting Business Remotely
There are a variety of challenges that businesses are still contending with regarding a remote work force. While many employees are perfectly capable of working from home, whether or not they can do so securely is an entirely different matter. From unsecured WiFi connections and routers to home computers running unpatched operating systems, there are many potential weak points that opportunistic hackers could use to gain a foothold in an organization’s network.
As organizations continue to adjust to the demands of the “new normal,” they must take a more complex view of their security exposure. With some people moving back to the office, others working on-site on a part-time basis, and still others staying remote permanently, companies need to move beyond the ad hoc solutions they implemented in the early days of the pandemic to adapt their business operations and security policies accordingly.
Document Security for Remote Business
Despite the risks associated with email, about nine in ten employees use email to send, view, and collaborate on documents, and they share an average of six documents each day. Considering that 94 percent of organizations still rank email as their top security vulnerability, it’s remarkable that they continue to expose their valuable documents to such risk. For remote businesses, relying on email is simply an unacceptable option.
More secure document management systems that provide incorporate authentication tools are critical for safeguarding proprietary information and sensitive data. A dedicated document management solution can transfer documents quickly, easily, and safely, not only ensuring that only authorized users can view them, but also making them much easier to locate, edit, and manage. The average professional spends about 18 minutes each day searching for documents, so having a secure document management system in place can also enhance productivity.
COVID-19 Contract Provisions
The challenges don’t stop with employee security. There are many business transactions that have long been conducted face-to-face and still lack the necessary infrastructure and procedures to be handled remotely without some careful planning. Real estate transactions, loan closings, and notarizations are not always able to be handled in-person, so there are a few extra considerations businesses must take into account.
Business closures, travel restrictions, and quarantines (both self-imposed and government-ordered) must be considered in drawing up contracts for legal transactions or deals. Contract language that specifically takes this into account may need to be agreed upon by both parties. Both parties involved in an official transaction must be prepared to adjust the transaction.
Due to social distancing guidelines and ongoing concerns over the pandemic, many title companies and other firms are still utilizing alternatives to in-person closings. Virtual or remote closings may even be required in some municipalities depending upon local regulations. In most cases, remote closings are a perfectly acceptable alternative for legal transactions provided the proper e-Signature verification tools are being used.
Wire Transfers Security
Security for financial information is absolutely necessary in the event of any wire transfers. There should be a heightened focus on data security and document security at this time, especially given everyone who is working remotely. Hackers and scammers are more active right now so it’s important to take the proper precautions. The key concern here is verifying who is sending and receiving data, documents, or funds. Some form of authentication needs in place to truly identify who you’re working with since you often can’t meet them in person.
Electronic Signature Verification
One of the biggest concerns surrounding remote closings and contracts is getting contracts signed by authorized parties. Although e-Signature technology has been available for quite some time and can provide significant benefits in terms of contract turnaround time and minimizing version issues, many companies are still hesitant to use it. That’s because it can sometimes be difficult to verify the identity of the person signing the document.
Unfortunately, many e-Signature solutions don’t provide much in the way of authentication tools. If there is no way to prove who received, opened, or signed a document, it can be difficult to attest to the signature’s authenticity if problems arise down the road. When all parties are in agreement, this isn’t much of a problem. But when there are disagreements, the terms of the contract may need to be resolved in a court of law, and that’s where questions about who actually signed the document become vitally important.
Electronic Signature Verification and the Law
From a legal standpoint, the strongest precedent for electronic signature verification was established by the California Court of Appeals in 2019 with the Fabian v. Renovate case. The court ruled that an electronic signature and corresponding identifying code is insufficient for verifying that a signature is authentic and contractually binding. In order to verify authenticity, additional evidence about the process is required, including:
- Who sent the contract.
- How the contract was delivered.
- Who received the contract.
- How the electronic signature was placed on the contract.
- How the signed contract was returned.
- How the sender’s identity was verified as the person who signed the contract.
The implications of the case are significant because most identity verification software is unable to provide this level of evidence. Without powerful document security tools backed by biometric authentication that can prove without question who received, viewed, and signed a document, many electronic signatures won’t stand a chance of holding up in court.
Smart Eye Technology
Smart Eye Technology is a new, advanced solution for document security that can help your business in times like this. This exciting platform uses multi-factor biometric authentication to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to the document. Smart Eye also employs continuous authentication so that if anyone other than the authorized user attempts to view the documents in question, the screen will block it from view.
With Smart Eye Technology, you can ensure that your business’s confidential information will stay confidential. In addition to document security, this biometric solution also provides electronic signature verification capabilities that meet the high standards required under the law. As your business looks for more secure ways to protect its documents and contractual relationships throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Smart Eye continues to refine its biometric authentication technology to meet those needs.
To learn more about this revolutionary technology, sign up for a live demo to experience the power of Smart Eye for yourself!