The auto industry is the largest retail sector in the American economy, and like so many other important industries, it has dramatically evolved over the last few years.
The pandemic kickstarted a long-desired digital shift in how cars are bought and sold. In 2020 alone, online car sales jumped from 2% to 30% of all vehicle sales, and Carvana CEO Ernie Garcia estimated that the pandemic would drive 10 years of progress in the span of about 18 months.
With dealerships conducting more business online and across state lines, it’s never been more important for them to fully embrace technology. While their primary focus is attracting prospective buyers through their retail shopping experience, dealers need back-end solutions that protect their business and help fight against the growing threat of fraud.
Let's take a look at verified eSignatures, how they’re used in online notarizations, and their growing impact on the auto industry.
A verified eSignature is an electronic signature that is authenticated to ensure that it was applied to a digital document by the intended signer. These signatures can be any type of sound, symbol, or process applied with the intent to sign the document.
Electronic signatures should not be confused with digital signatures, which are electronic signatures that are decrypted for validation using an accompanying digital certificate, certificate authority and public key infrastructure.
Verifying an eSignature is all about confirming the identity and intent of the signer, and there are a number of different ways a dealer can do this.
Without a proper eSignature solution, dealers may require the contract to be signed at the dealership under the watchful eye of an employee. Some dealers allow for documents to be eSigned, but they’ll call prospective buyers to verbally confirm they were the ones to fill out a contract.
Some dealers might send mobile notaries to a buyer’s house to validate signer identity and watch them sign the document package – even when the contract doesn’t require notarization.
As dealerships build out their digital services, fraud prevention must be at the forefront of everything they do. Dealerships will therefore want to find an eSignature vendor that offers a secure, transparent and verifiable signing process that gives them confidence in the buyer or seller’s identity.
For example, on the Notarize℠ platform, companies send eSign requests to their signers from their business portal. The signer must then verify their identity through knowledge-based authentication before they can apply their signature to the document package.
The problem with eSignatures is that they are exposed to many of the same security concerns as pen-and-ink signatures. Without the proper security measures in place, it’s difficult for dealerships to know who actually signed a given document.
For example, thieves may buy cars online using a stolen identity, and without proper vetting, would simply apply the stolen individual’s eSignatures to the contract. There are other less nefarious uses of eSignatures that are misuses all the same, like someone signing on behalf of their spouse without their knowledge or consent.
The primary benefit of a verified eSignature is that it helps dealerships mitigate identity fraud and feel confident in the integrity of the transaction. The verified eSignature process confirms signer identity and offers the security and tools to validate that the contract has not been tampered with after the fact.
The Notarize℠ platform provides these insights to dealers through their business portal. The dealer is able to review the completed documents for each transaction and verify that the signer made it through the security checkpoints. Each completed document is then tamper-sealed and comes with a comprehensive audit trail that captures key signer details and transaction specifics.
Dealerships are embracing the digital transformation in droves to both gain market share and meet consumer demands. In 2022, 87% of dealers identified digitization as a key component of their business model – twice as many as in 2021.
Verified eSignatures are positioned to immediately impact the last mile of the purchase process – primarily through financing and contract signing. With how much dealers are investing in their digital retail experiences, it only makes sense that they protect their digital investments with secure signing solutions.
It’s also the experience that buyers have come to expect. From digital showrooms to at-home test driving and home delivery of the vehicle, customers now expect convenience to be at the forefront of their car buying experience. Digitizing how, when and where signers can sign their documents is a key component of the overall shift to digital retail.
Embracing verified eSignature solutions allows customers to have the better signing (and car buying) experience that they crave without compromising the security and integrity that matters to the dealership. Notarize℠ offers a 24/7 online notarization solution for documents like limited powers of attorney. This means dealerships and consumers alike can benefit from a true end-to-end online signing experience from a single platform. Schedule a demo to learn more about how Notarize℠ can help your dealership today.