Monday, August 10, 2020

What is Digital Signing and How Does it Benefit Businesses?

The rise of the digital signature has revolutionized finance, and real estate sectors, as well as commercial and industrial enterprises. This is likely to be happening even more now that contactless transactions, social distancing and digital adoption are all traits of the new norm amid COVID-19. 

Digital signatures are ways to verify your identity on an electronic file (like a sales contract). They work with encryption technology, so you're the only person that can use any electronic file to access your unique encryption. Using tech for digital signatures can be part of system modernization and a larger, overall digital strategy. Some have adopted the technology while others remain skeptical. Either way, digital signatures have measurable benefits, like most technological advances, as well as associated costs and risks.

Electronic signatures (e-signatures) and digital signatures are not the same

e-signatures are notoriously susceptible to fraud because they are essentially just electronic symbols, processes or sounds attached to documents to represent a form of assent or agreement. A digital image of a handwritten signature can easily be captured on a smartphone or tablet before being pasted back into a document. Without any encrypted authentication process to reinforce security, e-signatures aren't able to determine the identity of a human operator who last used the signature.

On the other hand, digital signatures are reinforced with higher levels of security and advanced technology to assure optimal safety for documents. They are often built on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which is used to generate unique "digital fingerprints" through mathematical algorithms. These digital fingerprints are then safely embedded in the documents, and signers will have to perform 2-Factor Authentication measures to confirm legitimate identities.

What's more, the digital IDs of each legitimate signer can only be issued by an accredited CA (authorised bodies empowered by the government to issue digital IDs for evaluated individuals). In essence, each signer is legally permitted to use these generated signatures. 

Prioritizing authenticity

Digital signing is generally made up of a simple process. Users simply upload their documents and take simple steps to set up the necessary signatures. An automated process prompts the signatories via a mobile app or email, which leads to the creation of a highly secure and convenient digital signature on the respective document.

For the most part, there are two main types of digital signatures; those for internal documents, which don't have to be compliant with the Malaysia Digital Signature Act 1997 (DSA) since they are just for internal approval processes, and DSA-compliant signatures with digital signatures produced via digital certificates issued by one of the Certification Authorities (CAs) which is a mandatory step for official transactions like agreements and legal contracts.

While electronic signatures are simply digital images of hand-drawn patterns which cannot guarantee that they are tamper-proof, digital signatures can, in fact, guarantee document authenticity by utilizing cryptography techniques - achieving non-repudiation through identity authentication and e-KYC.

In essence, digital signing refers to a process by which an encoded signature is attached to an electronic document. Digital signatures are basically legally binding. This means that companies are no longer tied to paper for contract execution. The benefits with regard to process improvement, as well as cost savings resulting from this can be substantial. Similarly, the use of the digital signature in Malaysia is also regulated through the Digital Signature Act 1997 (DSA 1997). Essentially, the act can help ensure that legal issues related to electronic transactions are secured and digital signatures developed through certificates issued by a licensed Certification Authority (CA) are verified in accordance with the country's laws.

Authenticity is the principal benefit of digital signatures. To prove that you are who you say you are, there's no need to print, sign, copy, scan, fax or mail files. Even if someone hacks into your email account, you don't have to worry. Digital signatures prevent impostors from sending false information or manipulating files while preserving the integrity of electronic documents.

Convenience is a huge advantage of digital signing. In the past, before digital signatures were legally recognized, every contract had to be signed, shipped, faxed, or scanned and filed. This process obviously requires multiple steps, making it time-consuming and expensive. It should, therefore, be avoided whenever feasible in favour of digital signatures.

Documentation security

It is difficult to track paper documents unless you keep them in sight at all times. Relying on the transferring of hard copies can mean sharing sensitive information with your rivals. One can forge signatures. Moreover, paper is fragile and can be easily damaged, as well as easily lost.

Almost all digital signing solutions add security layers including encryption so malicious hackers won't be able to access documents. Some often provide audit trails which document the exact signature time and whether somebody tried to manipulate a document after it had been signed.

Furthermore, digital signatures are more reliable than ink signatures. In order to forge your digital signature, one must have access for both your computer and your signing certificate password. Technology or merely good copying by hand facilitates the easier forging of an ink signature. Nevertheless, people are wary of electronic forgery of documents, because you cannot replace the authenticity of physically witnessing someone's signing with a pen. 

The digital signature offers a higher level of security than the paper contract, thanks to the asymmetric encryption it uses. This allows for the precise verification of the unique digital identities of each signer while maintaining the chain of custody throughout the process. Ultimately, digital encryption and audit trails keep your signature secure, protecting your organization against fraud and keeping your information safe.

Optimizing remote working capabilities 

Working remotely is currently a hot topic. However, this might not be for positive reasons. Teams and organisations, in the era of corona cancellations, are redefining themselves, prompting their processes to become even more digital and seeking out better solutions to make the most out of their investments.

Communication between employees can be crucial, which is why the demand for remote services is high. Anyone who collaborates with peers spread out over various locations has probably used shared documents over the internet.

Remote working doesn't need to be a gigantic hurdle. Deals can be signed and documents shared without depending on where we work. In fact, numerous brick and mortar processes are gradually becoming obsolete and might be considered backdated compared to the many digital alternatives that exist today. This is especially prevalent as the COVID-19 pandemic prompts lockdowns across the globe and people resort to working anywhere and any way they can.

Although emails and remote signatures are sensitive for legal/security reasons, by using a Trusted Service Provider for digitally signed agreements, you can protect your businesses.

Enhancing the Legal Sector

The legal industry relies heavily on vast amounts of documentation. Using the digital signature allows legal organizations to save costs and give their clients more time and attention. Thanks to this technology, contracts can be concluded with increased efficiency, both from a mobile phone or tablet, without having to depend on a set time for customers.  

Until now, the process flow for legal expert departments has been tedious. It was necessary to print the paperwork, sign them by hand, scan them, send them to the client by email or fax and wait to receive a signature, then proceed to file them, after having copied them several times. The result was a remarkable cost of paper, time and space in the office, and a deadened workflow that revolved around waiting to receive the document signed and validated by all parties.

That is unacceptable nowadays. Law professionals, who charge by the hour, can not continue to waste more on paperwork than is necessary. Their customers also require more flexibility, without this affecting the confidentiality of information in their documents.

For this reason, the digital signature will be used by many more legal departments and legal professionals, such as lawyers, magistrates or notaries. At present, there are some exceptions to the applicable use of digital signing in Malaysia for legal binding documents. These include power of Attorney, wills and trusts.

Enhancing customer experiences

Consumers demand speed and efficiency from their interactions all the time. In order to keep up with client’s expectations and to be able to provide competitive services and added value, digital signatures can reduce the need to organize meeting times and places to be able to sign paper documents. The process also gives more time for customers to look over and fully comprehend what they are signing on.

Customers often look at piles of paper as simply something to get through during interactions in person. They seldom read what they sign, as they feel pressured to complete the transaction. Customers feel better informed when they can take their time to read through documents at their own pace during the process.

Monday, July 27, 2020

e-KYC Concept Enhances Secured Financial Services for Customers

This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve, authored by Nur Hanani Azman.

Photo by Nafis Abman from Pexels

Electronic Know-Your-Customer (e-KYC) concept is the new buzzword for banks, financial services and insurance industry that looks into giving more secured financial services for customers.

Thanks to the e-KYC policy and guidelines by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), more players are actively taking part in this sector in Malaysia.

“There are many areas that will involve e-KYC or online identification (ID) verification in banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), from account opening to financing facility application, investment account activation and e-banking/mobile banking activation,” said Innov8tif Solutions Sdn Bhd COO Law Tien Soon.

Founded in 2011, Innov8tif is an artificial intelligence (AI) company helping businesses to widen sales funnel, speed-up processes without paper and prevent frauds.

Law said with the rising cases of SMS one-time password (OTP) frauds, it is evident that SMS OTP isn’t necessarily the best second-factor authentication method.

Facial biometrics which is a part of e-KYC registration is the most secure method to protect customer’s identity and assets.

Law highlighted that from their experience of serving eight telecommunication companies (telcos) in Malaysia, telco is the first industry to have benefitted from digital ID verification — 24/7 realtime customer onboarding made possible.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

What are the Differences between Digital Banking and Virtual Banking?

Digital disruption has impacted the world’s financial landscape, as well as other facets of society. Digital automation may become even more common in the years to come. 

In the midst of a ferocious pandemic, economic and health-related pressures have stirred innovation towards the reinforcement of banking processes for both individuals and businesses. 

Fintech can be found at the center of this trend, and major financial institutions are beginning to make way for smaller, more uniquely positioned, and more agile fintech solution providers. 

Partnerships, pivots and added offerings have unraveled concepts that push convenience, speed and digital integration to the forefront. Among these concepts are digital banking and virtual banking. They may seem similar, however, these two concepts have major differences. 

Virtual banks are fully online

The key difference to remember between digital and virtual banks is that virtual banks are made up of financial services and processes that exist solely online. By its definition, virtual banks don't rely on branch offices or any other forms of physical presence to resume operations. For the most part, interested applicants need to download a mobile banking app if they want to open a bank account under a virtual banking service. You'll need to submit your details and complete various security checks through an online platform before being assigned a fully virtual account. These online platforms are usually verified and offer protective measures to keep customer safety a top priority.

It isn't difficult to see that virtual banking stemmed from a booming demand of convenience and rapid speed, amid rising digital infrastructures as consumers grow more dependent on online transactions and ecommerce. The concept itself is relatively new - compared to some other financial innovations - eradicating the need for many burdens carried by traditional banks. There are no physical outlets, so expenses like rent, maintenance and workforce for individual branches are non-existent. Every process, inquiry, transaction and application is conducted via an online system, which translates to freedom and efficiency.

Digital banking may comprise physical aspects

Also known commonly as internet banking or online banking, digital banking is more of a blanket term that describes the added digital components to conventional banking processes. In this regard, digital banking has been around for quite some time now, with earlier forms involving logging into bank websites to check active accounts or complete transactions. The term itself can be seen as a predecessor which led to the eventual rise of virtual banking in its current form. For the most part, digital banking might require users to first head over to conventional bank branches and register physically. 

Some paperwork may be involved, and customers might have to complete their registration over the counter before they can access their online accounts. Of course, things have changed quite dramatically these days, and many traditional banks offer the option of creating online accounts from the comfort of your home. However, it's still necessary to create an active account with that bank - and that still requires you to head over to physical branches.

In mid-Jul 2020, CIMB Malaysia introduced an online-to-branch account opening process for individual banking customers, who can now submit their application to open a current or savings account online. Subsequently, they proceed to a dedicated e-account opening priority queue available in all the bank's branches to complete the application via Know-Your-Customer due diligence. 

Nowadays, digital banking is used more as a term to describe any banking activities which are conducted and completed through digital devices. Consumers are constantly using their phones to access saving apps or pay for products by scanning codes, while companies are used to paying salaries and expenses through banking apps online. By definition, these are all examples of digital banking.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

How Might COVID-19 Affect Industry 4.0 Moving Forward?

Just a few months ago, the future seemed bright for many industries across the board. Plenty of technological innovation impacted a surge in solutions that revolved around helping businesses from a variety of sectors. Founders, CEOs and other individuals were all positioned to reach the next level. 

Then suddenly, a potent pandemic crippled entire economies and disabled strategies, bringing about a halt to many future plans. How has COVID-19 affected Industry 4.0? Have advancements in areas like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data been squandered? Has the crisis sent Industry 4.0 back to the drawing board?

Quite the contrary

When it comes to delving into the mechanics for the future of manufacturing, production and operational logistics, Industry 4.0 is very much a central focus right now. Artificial intelligence, advanced automation, the Internet of Things and data analytics are all components that could play very integral roles as they begin to reinvent and restructure how businesses and industries offer their products and services. These technologies could also impact a business’ overall digital strategy.

The pandemic has brought social distancing procedures, contactless forms of transactions and payments, an urgent emphasis on building digital infrastructures and an urgent emphasis on operational efficiency to light. These key factors all require the implementation of advanced technology in order to accelerate enterprise-wide growth in a calculated and careful fashion.
Businesses are more cautious than before moving forward, and Industry 4.0 could help meet their demands.

Necessity over doubt

As Industry 4.0 technologies became more mainstream, many manufacturers and enterprises around the world were wary of adopting the concept of Industry 4.0 due to the alleged costs and complexity related to the entire process.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

MCO sees higher e-KYC adoption

This article first appeared in The Edge Markets Malaysia, authored by Vanessa Gomes.

woman using smartphone
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

During the recent nationwide lockdown, the majority of business activities involving physical in-person presence were on hiatus. To keep people at home during the Movement Control Order (MCO), the government announced incentives related to free mobile data, but telecommunication dealers and agents were closed.

Fortunately for telcos who already had the electronic know-your-customer (e-KYC) channel in place, they were able to serve the market digitally. Innov8tif Solutions Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Law Tien Soon tells Enterprise that among the five telco brands they provide e-KYC for, he witnessed an average of 279% growth in monthly prepaid SIM card activation from the e-KYC channel, in April (when compared to SIM card activation pre-MCO in February).

“April was a whole month of lockdown and in February, the shops were still open. When we compared the two months, we found there was an average of 2.5 times of growth in electronic registration. This shows that the e-KYC infrastructure was very good ensuring continued business sales,” he says.

Monday, July 6, 2020

5 Things You Should Know About Biometric Technology

Whether you know it or not, biometric technology is a part of daily life in many parts of the world. If you use facial recognition verification on your phone or to gain access to a secured space, or place your finger on a mobile device to unlock the interface, you are experiencing biometric tech at work. In essence, it utilizes the uniqueness of your body's features as a means of authentication. 

Biometric security through technology is a great and innovative idea that's impacting many of our security systems and safety measures, especially now that social distancing and the new norm are all very real concepts in our lives. 
Here are a few things you should know about biometric tech that could come in handy if you intend to use it in your business or implement it in any shape or form.

It provides enhanced security

You may be familiar with basic forms of digital security like passwords and verification messages sent directly to your phone or email. However, these measures are sometimes not enough to protect your assets from malicious activities, especially since cyber-criminals are growing more advanced and intelligent by the day.
This is why biometric technology is considered a form of enhanced security, when combined with other authentication methods to form a very strong user authentication process. It relies on physiological identifiers or human traits to access control systems or unrestricted spaces (digital or physical). The fingerprint lock is a common biometric tech feature and is used for items ranging from phones to physical safe locks. They are more convenient and more secure than traditional deadbolts. On top of this, fingerprint locks can usually detect whether a door has closed and can automatically be locked after a few seconds, which means that you won't have to worry about leaving something unlocked by accident.
Most of the e-KYC (electronic know-your-customer) frameworks witnessed in the online ID verification process are also relying on facial verification to prevent unauthorized representation of identity or identity fraud.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Rise of Biometric Identification In The Education Sector

Primarily, with regards to Biometric Identification, fingerprint scanning is one of the most widely used methods of verification adopted worldwide. The current COVID-19 pandemic crisis has brought about increased caution and instigated a ‘contactless culture’ related to the importance of social distancing. Biometric identification can still be a useful security measure and can be enhanced with contactless biometric technology.

Contactless biometric technology, with its abilities and applications, has now become a valuable tool for instructors who want to enforce academic integrity in light of the continued migration of learning into the online space. However, it also offers significant safety benefits beyond that.

Advocating the "contactless" new norm

In today's high-risk environment, public health is a major issue. Offices, schools and public institutions are either temporarily closed, or slowly reopening with tight regulations and operational SOPs.

This is where biometric verification can come in handy. Fingerprint scanning can be exclusively enabled for identification on personal devices - such as through the use of a personal smartphone for fingerprint verification, or facial verification through a phone camera. In this way, biometrics can still be used as a relevant security measure for schools. In fact, biometrics might lead to fewer points of contact in public spaces and better safety control.

Building a more engaging educational experience

In addition to grade books and report cards, school districts now have access to a set of tools that might provide them with unprecedented insight into how students engage with class material. This is possible via biometric data.