Signing New Clients On The Internet, An Identification Problem

To sell a financial product on the Internet, the electronic signature “on the fly” of a contract is essential if one does not want to fall into the pitfalls of paper: costs, delays, and non-compliance.
Behind the electronic signature, the identification of prospects has become an obligation to think in terms of risk, cost and conversion rate.

Electronic signature and identification of the signatory

There are two types of electronic signature: Signatures that are suspected to be reliable and those that are not. For the former, their implementation is subject to certifications and audits. For the latter, their implementation is free. If their reliability is discussed in court, it will nevertheless be necessary to provide the technical elements demonstrating their quality, particularly with regard to the identification of the signatory and the retention of the signed document, so that the integrity of the document, It is ensured. Ultimately, these two types of signature have the same legal value.

An electronic signature called “on the fly” (or “server”) belongs to the second category. It does not need to be installed on the user’s workstation, it allows the user to sign from any connected terminal (computer, tablet, smartphone). Its flexibility makes it ideal for optimizing complex sales processes on the Internet.

As with all signatures, the identity of the signatory must be verified beforehand to claim the legal value of the act. When the customer is “known” and his telephone number is assumed to be reliable, he can be authenticated via a single-use code sent by SMS. When the customer is “unknown”, that is to say, when the prospect is a prospect, his or her just-reported telephone number cannot be assumed to be reliable and the sending of an OTP by SMS n Is more than enough. It cannot be authenticated to prove its identity.

What is the risk of identifying the prospect?

Dematerialization brings new technological solutions to the risk of identity theft. But when the method of identification is weak, a new danger appears the questioning by the customer himself, the value of his electronic signature, and therefore his commitments. The main risk is then the same as for a paper contact: a stock of contracts at risk since they are based on the same model or on the same contracting process.

The questioning of the signature obviously does not have the same impact depending on the nature of the contract. This is what will allow the implementation of strategies adapting the level of risk of the contract to the history of the customer. Online banks will offer, for example, an electronic signature for the opening of accounts, but will wait a few months of seniority and often the use of a payment card to offer credits via an equivalent process.

What technical solutions?

Strengthening the identification of the prospect before its electronic signature is the first step. To do this, the best practice is to implement a system to verify in real-time the identity document of the signatory (national identity card, passport, resident card). This verification must be carried out only once at the nearest signature. This solution has the advantage of not interrupting the user experience.

Depending on the payment process in place, a second option is to rest either on the knowledge of the credit card number (distance selling) or on the knowledge of its PIN code (physical sale). Recording the voice consent of the signatory is a third option. If this strengthens the evidence associated with its commitment, there is no actual identity verification prior to signing and ensuring its value.

Finally, if the risk associated with the contract is deemed too large, or if the identity check fails, an asynchronous path will be better than a return to paper. The user experience will then be interrupted for the manual verification of its identity, generally by checking the supporting documents submitted upstream which may be associated with:

– A phone call

– A video call

– Mail to the address of the signatory

In the medium term, government initiatives suggest that new standards will strengthen the identification of prospects without interrupting the customer experience. The use of 2D-Doc to supplement the identity document with proof of domicile should be generalized at the end of 2015.

What impacts on costs and transformation rate?

Of course, these solutions have a significant impact on the customer’s acquisition cost and the associated conversion rate. They can be classified as follows (at least impacting to the most impacting):

– Entering an OTP received by SMS.

– Submission of an identity document.

– Manual asynchronous checking of the backrest.

The impact of the request for identity documents before signing can lead to a 15% drop in the conversion rate. Its cost of automatic verification is generally between 0.20 € and 0.60 €, depending on the volume.

The impact of an asynchronous manual check is variable. For example, the phone call can benefit from the conversion rate if it was thought to do so. On the other hand, it takes time and its cost is therefore significant.

The transformation rate of a fully digital route is about 30% higher than that of a digital + paper route (contract and/or supporting documents sent by post). Adding controls will reduce this margin, but should never reverse it.


Due to the negative impact of additional controls on customer transformation, organizations implementing electronic signatures for prospects prefer to reserve the first digital contractual contract to a low-risk contract (for example, a small amount of credit). Then, they gradually enlarge their scope (increase in the ceiling) via new contracts whose identification will be reinforced by the history of the relationship.

The customer eligibility strategy must, therefore, evolve to integrate the dematerialization strategy. It is on this basis that technological solutions can complement the risk policy.

Finally, the first experiments will bring more confidence and more ambition. In this context, you have to know how to start with a comfortable project for everyone (business, legal, technical), learn together and iterate with a new, more ambitious project. Subscribe today at our blog and keep visiting Ranking Solutions

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