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Trust in Every Transaction: Our Commitment to Compliance and the Integrity of Online Notarizations

This is how we've built an online notarization platform centered around compliance so we can bring trust online for our customers.
Notarize
May 12, 2022
5 min

At Notarize, we recognize the significance of each transaction that is completed on our platform. Documents that require notarization are often tied to life’s most important moments, and we take great pride in the trust you show us to complete these transactions quickly, accurately, and most importantly: legally and compliantly. They need to be error-free and legal, every time, without exception. 

Our team is proud of its reputation as the market leader in remote online notarization (RON), but being the leader is about much more than building a platform and offering a service. It’s about commitment to quality, even when there might seem like an easier path forward, and setting the highest standards that move everyone forward – together. 

As online notarization continues to help industries go fully digital, delight signers, and prove itself a safer, simpler, and smarter alternative to in-person notarizations, we want to underscore our longstanding commitment to its integrity and compliance, and to building solutions that instill trust in every transaction.

Here’s how and why that commitment benefits us all.

We’ve built the most compliant platform 

As the leader in online notarization, we play a crucial role in protecting the integrity of the notarial process and have a fundamental responsibility to safeguard the reputation of the industry that we helped build. That begins with a strict adherence to the laws and regulations that govern online notarization and the specific types of transactions we serve in each state. 

Each state’s RON laws are different, meaning the Notarize℠ platform must be customized to account for the unique requirements of each state. This often requires waiting until regulations are in place before finishing scoping what it will take to add a new state to the platform.

Once a state finalizes its regulations, we complete an internal compliance check of the state’s laws and regulations and update our platform with a standard series of customizations, which include:

  • Notary onboarding: A state-specific onboarding process ensures notaries are properly commissioned before allowing them to perform notarizations on the platform. It also ensures notaries have the tools they need to perform notarizations in compliance with the unique requirements of their state (e.g. seals, toolbar, notarial certificates, etc.).
  • Seals: Notarize uses the information shared during onboarding to automatically generate a seal that complies with the particular legal requirements of the notary’s state and is provided free of charge.
  • Notary toolbar and notarial certificates: Notarial certificate contents differ by state. An individualized in-meeting toolbar and state-specific templates for notarial certificates allow notaries to complete notarial acts with the necessary information as required by their state.
  • Signer identification: Signer identification methods (such as personal knowledge, multi-step identity verification and credible witness) are only available to notaries if authorized by their state.
  • Notarial acts: Notaries can only perform the specific notarial acts that are allowed by their state.
  • Journals: Notary journals are customized to capture the specific information required by each notary state.

Sometimes, states impose unique requirements that are unlike those of any other state requiring us to develop entirely new configurations, features, or processes before we can onboard that state.

We only allow valid and legal forms of signer identification 

Signers on our platform are usually identified through a three-step identity verification process that includes knowledge-based authentication (KBA), credential analysis, and final validation of their identity by a live notary. 

There are, however, two additional methods of signer identity verification on our platform:

  • Credible witness: The signer’s identity is indirectly verified through the oath of another person who has already been identified through the three-step identity verification process.
  • Personal knowledge: Signers who are personally known to the notary need not complete the multi-step identity verification process.

Please note: This identification method is available to businesses using their own in-house notaries and notaries completing their own transactions onto the platform. In these cases, the signer must still upload an ID as additional assurance of their identity, and the notary must confirm that they personally know the signer.

These methods allow signers who lack a government-issued ID or U.S. Social Security Number to complete online notarizations. 

We vet every notary on the platform

Just as we vet every signer, we bring the same rigor to vetting notaries on the platform.

Before a notary can perform notarizations on our platform, their commission information is reviewed by our dedicated team of specialists for accuracy and confirmed against state databases. The notary must also maintain errors and omissions (E&O) insurance with sufficient coverage whenever they perform notarizations on the platform.

Additionally, on-demand notaries must complete a background check and the Notary Signing Agent training course offered by the National Notary Association

Once approved, subsequent changes to a notary’s information trigger a follow-up review before the notary can be let back onto the platform. 

The Notarize platform intelligently monitors the notary’s information and notifies them 30 days prior to any expiration date. If a notary allows their information to expire, the platform will prevent them from completing notarizations.

The combination of human and automated touch points helps ensure transactions on our platform are only handled by notaries authorized to perform online notarizations.

We seek approval and advocate for what’s right

Notarize is a product- and policy-led company, and we’re proud to be actively involved in the advocacy, application, and protection of online notarization rules and regulation.

We educated the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) about online notarization and helped drive their adoption of digital closings. Notarize was also the first company to receive title underwriter approval for online closings. In 2017, we completed the first online closing across state lines – a fully underwritten and insured loan that was sold to Freddie Mac with no exceptions.

As our use cases expanded beyond real estate, we developed relationships with key industry associations and leaders to understand their needs, build internal support, drive external acceptance, and build transactional workflows built for the 21st century.

Our Public Affairs team chairs committees, partners with regulators, and advocates for policies that protect consumers, empower businesses, and instill confidence in remote online notarization. Our goal is to always be on the forefront of setting standards, working hand-in-hand with regulators, and helping our customers maintain compliance in each and every transaction. 

And we always want to fight for what’s right. For example, in New York, we worked with members of the Assembly and Senate to promptly pass Assembly Bill 8691 and Senate Bill 7780. This updated New York’s 2021 RON law to require signers to undergo a multi-step identity verification process before completing an online notarization. 

This process was central to upholding our belief that everyone involved in an online notarization – from the notary to the consumer – is protected through the signing process and beyond.

Online notarization is our core product

At Notarize, we proudly own our role as the leader in both product experience and compliance – offering a compliant platform to businesses and consumers alike. We are the established market leader in online notarization because, since our founding in 2015, it has been our core focus as a company.

In every industry, there will always be those who take shortcuts or cut corners to increase profits or the speed at which they can serve customers. But with online notarization, noncompliance means increased risks for notaries and businesses. At Notarize, we don't believe in shortcuts.

We are invested in the benefits and potential of online notarization, and remain steadfast in our commitment to its long-term health, prosperity, and integrity of this industry. We recognize that this work is ongoing as the regulatory and technology landscapes change, and we are uniquely positioned and qualified to serve you – without cutting corners or compromising integrity.

Businesses and signers alike deserve peace of mind when trusting in our services. We’re grateful for your confidence, and we’re excited for our continued partnership as we build the future of trust online.

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