Author: Geraldine Critchley

A fast and uncomplicated way to a digital rental contract

E-Rent from Wincasa shows how digitalization and optimized user experience can succeed in the real estate sector: with the e-signature solution from Skribble and technological backbone infrastructure by Swisscom Trust Services.


With 31 locations and around 1,000 employees, Wincasa is Switzerland's largest integrated real estate service provider. The experts manage properties along their entire life cycle. One core area of the business is the rental of apartments and parking spaces. With its rental solution E-Rent, Wincasa digitizes and automates the entire rental process, eliminating the need for paper, hand signatures, and mailing of documents.

The vision of a digital, end-to-end, and fully automated process

In 2018, Dominic Hux, now Product Owner E-Rent, started developing the digital application portal and later the automated document output management in his role as Digital Transformation Agent. This still represents the critical foundation of E-Rent today. With the start of Marco Kissling as Head of Business & Digital Excellence in September 2019 and the associated establishment of the department, the ideas around application management, fully automated contract generation, digital tenant selection, and rental contracts merged. In January 2020, Wincasa went live with its digital application portal. Meanwhile, the core team developing E-Rent includes Julia Kramer and Chantal Friess as Digital Transformation Agents.

Digital-first, analog too

Wincasa sees itself as a digital real estate company that wants to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technological progress. For a long time, signing rental contracts was an analog bottleneck in otherwise digital processes. E-Rent set out to change this situation and revolutionize the handling of leases, including integrating documents. The pilot project started with the rental of outdoor parking spaces, as these are standardized objects with standardized contract modules and low financial risk. This enabled fully automated rental around the clock. The next step is to extend the offer to other types of secondary property, such as hobby rooms. In the case of apartments, the situation is somewhat more complex: Despite the digital focus, living is an emotional issue and a basic human need. Therefore, from Wincasa’s point of view, it is essential that interested parties, according to their possibilities, can apply digitally in the transition phase to E-Rent via the analog route. E-Rent provides application options tailored to requirements from the ground up.

End-to-end renting

A fully digital rental contract stands and falls with a legally valid electronic signature. For its implementation, the E-Rent team evaluated various possible partners. Ultimately, the choice fell on Skribble: The company not only had the best offer technologically and economically but also had a vital partner in Swisscom Trust Services behind it. However, Wincasa wants to go one step further and strives to make the leasing process digital, highly automated, and free of media discontinuity – including additional documents such as the initial rent form. In addition, Wincasa’s HR department has been using Skribble’s qualified electronic signature for some time now (read the complete interview).

E-signature with "Fast Track"

Wincasa has analyzed electronic signature types to create the best process for all parties. The advanced electronic signature (AES) has proven to be legally appropriate for E-Rent or rental in general and is very convenient and easy to use for users.

“Wincasa always has the ambition to create the best possible digital solutions for all parties involved. The challenge is to find an appropriate balance between security, practicality, experience, and performance. Wincasa believes that the advanced electronic signature (AES) meets the requirements for a balanced solution. To define a consistent security level of the e-signature for the rental process across the industry, Wincasa and SVIT Switzerland have set up the SVIT Futureboard. In this board, the biggest industry players among real estate service providers agree that the advanced electronic signature (AES) is appropriate for the digital rental contract.”

– Marco Kissling, Head of Business & Digital Excellence

With the “Fast Track” solution from Swisscom Trust Services integrated into Skribble, it is possible to identify the contract partner and clearly declare intent via SMS. The procedure is based on the fact that a person must get identified once to obtain a SIM card and mobile number by the provisions of Swiss telecommunications law. If a document is about to get signed, a hash is formed from it, which is then signed by Swisscom Trust Services. At no time does the trust service have any insight into the document itself. Contractual partners with a SIM card are then sent a one-time password via SMS, which they enter to trigger the document signature. This step is a declaration of intent and consents to the contract, like a manual signature. Swisscom Trust Services verifies the code assigned to a particular contract and issues an electronic certificate based on it. In the process, the transmitted hash is signed and provided with a qualified time stamp.

Administrative processes conclude in the blink of an eye.

Digitizing contract management brings significant efficiency gains for Wincasa. To this end, the team has implemented several optimizations: digital credit checks, fully automated contract generation, fully automated landlord signature using an electronic organization seal, digital rental contract conclusion, and other process improvements. A decisive interface was the electronic signature from Skribble. It was the only way to overcome the media discontinuity finally. All in all, Wincasa achieved an impressive performance increase for all parties:

“With the digital rental contract for outdoor parking spaces, we achieve an 800-fold acceleration in processing time under ideal conditions compared to the analog route. Regarding management, we ideally expect a 35-fold reduction in administrative workload with the e-lease agreement.”

– Dominic Hux, Product Owner E-Rent


f.l.t.r. Julia Kramer, Dominic Hux, Marco Kissling & Chantal Friess

Based on the positive experience, the company is expanding the use of Skribble’s e-signature with Swisscom Trust Services in the background to the digital residential rental contract from spring 2022 on pilot properties. The overriding goal is to process the rental of all residential properties in the portfolio using these solutions. In addition, Wincasa’s experience shows that electronic signatures can also be used profitably in correspondence with authorities. This use is therefore also being continuously increased.

You can learn more about this topic and the collaboration between Skribble and Wincasa on the Skribble blog.


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