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About the digital signature

published at 10.08.2022 from Philipp Gernerth

It's time - one of mankind's oldest business acts is going digital.

In the centre of the magnificent Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, a single table. Sitting at it, British Prime Minister David Llyod George surrounded by the other state representatives. One of the most important treaties in recent history is being signed. In 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the treaty that officially sealed the end of the First World War. A treaty that put an end to years of cruel war and - as it would later turn out - imposed many material and immaterial burdens on the German people.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George at the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty on 28 June 1919.

Since time immemorial, more or less important declarations, decisions and contracts have been signed by one or more persons. Some of the earliest known examples of the signature date back as far as 3000 BC. In modern times, the signature and release of important documents is a fundamental component in every conceivable branch of business.

The binding nature of the signature is of particular importance, because only binding and correctly signed documents have the corresponding probative force or validity. However, obtaining signatures is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Even one document on which three people have to sign means a total time expenditure of around 45 minutes. This includes printing in triplicate, sending documents by post or coordinating a joint appointment for the signature.
For some time now, signing documents can be done completely digitally - with the same binding force and legal validity, equivalent to a manual signature. This is widely known under the term "digital signature".

Digital signatures and their binding nature are regulated in the European Union within the framework of the eIDAS Regulation. In addition to the requirements for digital signatures and their implementation, their legal status is also regulated. There are different types of digital signatures, referred to as "simple", "advanced" and "qualified". While the result looks almost the same on the surface, the status of the signature and its binding nature are very different.

They are not all the same. It depends on the security standard of the digital signature.

Everyone knows this method: a photo of one's own signature taken with a mobile phone, cropped with an image editing tool, saved on the desktop, placed on various documents - and - ready is the "digital signature" ...Unfortunately, no. Here we are talking about a form of simple electronic signature (EES) . This form of signature has no probative value and can never replace a written signature. In the case of the agreement of both contracting parties, this method can also be a viable option, but it by no means fulfils the critical requirements for legal and data protection conformity, especially in the business sector.

"Depending on the type of digital signature, there is a different binding force. Even if they look visually the same".

Dr. Fabian Knirsch, sproof
CTO & Co-Founder

It is different with the advanced electronic signature (FES). In addition to the simple digital signature, the advanced digital signature offers the possibility of unambiguous identification of the signatory. The identification can be done e.g. via the email address, telephone number, etc.. This already offers a high security standard because the identity of the signers can be traced. At sproof, the advanced electronic signature is already used by default. Above this, there is only the qualified electronic signature (QES) - the highest digital signature standard.

The advanced electronic signature (FES) and the qualified electronic signature (QES) both offer a high security standard

For the most important decisions, the most secure signature.

There are more and more documents circulating in all business areas and company sizes that require writing by law. This legal term is clearly regulated for the digital signature in the Signature Act (for Austria, see §4 para. 1) and in the eIDAS Regulation. In order to fulfil this writtenness digitally, an applied digital signature must be "qualified". The "qualified electronic signature", also known as QES, is legally equivalent to a handwritten signature.

This type of signing is no more complicated than many other digital processes that have become completely commonplace. With online banking, you have to additionally confirm every transaction by approving it with a PIN or fingerprint using your mobile phone. This additional security arises because the transaction is confirmed via a second factor. In the end, you confirm that you are 100% the person who was specified as the person carrying out the transaction. This means that misuse and fraud can be completely ruled out.

Exactly the same principle is used for the digital signature. The prerequisite for this is the identification of one's own person at a certified office in order to be able to use the corresponding services.


IdentificationA qualified electronic signature requires a one-time identification. This means you have to identify yourself in a short video call ("Video-Ident procedure") and show your (valid) passport or identity card there. This identification is only necessary once and is then valid for five years or (if this occurs earlier) until the expiry of your identity document.


Second factorIn the course of identification, you install an app on your mobile phone or alternatively -- if you cannot or do not want to install the app -- you later receive a one-time code via SMS.


Signature & ApprovalAre ready for the signature. Select the position of your digital signature and authorise it on the mobile phone via the app or enter the one-time code received via SMS. The legally binding signature is applied "invisibly" in the background, purely digitally. The image of your signature has no legal relevance here, but enables a common and familiar representation of the signature. The conformity of the document can be checked at any time by the state verification service of the RTR, among others. sproof offers this service directly in the platform.

The qualified signature at sproof

With sproof sign, premium packages receive a legally valid, qualified digital signature. For this purpose, after creating an account and purchasing a premium package, the registration for the qualified signature is automatically suggested. For identification, you need your photo ID, a mobile phone and a PC with webcam and about 5 minutes for a video call. The process of qualified signing itself is then just as uncomplicated as the other digital signature options. In the following video you can see how you can use sproof for qualified signing.

How to sproof qualified signatures yourself and/or also obtain qualified signatures.

An unforgeable signature - for all times.

With a qualified or advanced digital signature, it is possible to unalterably trace who signed, when, with which security standard and trust service provider.
There is a reason for this. The actual signature of the document is never tied to the tool or platform with which it was originally issued. In fact, the signature is inextricably linked to the digital file.
The document is and remains 100% forgery-proof, legally valid and traceable for all times. Important documents that are digitally (qualified) signed therefore outperform a handwritten signature in terms of evidential value many times over! Many other tools and signature platforms, however, only allow this verification of signatures via complicated detours. With sproof it only takes one click. The actual proof of the binding agreement between the contracting parties is thus very easy to reconstruct.💡

Philipp Gernerth
Head of Growth, sproof
Philipp and the growth team are responsible for spreading the message of sproof on all possible channels with a great deal of tact in order to strategically scale up interest. He himself is passionate about digital "little helpers" that can make everyday life much more efficient.