Author: Marco Schmid

Goodbye paper contract: How QES simplifies in-store hire purchase

Every year for the past ten years or so, Black Friday, which has spilled over from the USA, has also been taking place in Germany at the end of November and enables consumers to buy Christmas presents and larger purchases at a lower price. Especially for the latter, buyers like to take advantage of the option to pay the fee in several installments. However, those who purchase in a shop should allow enough time for this because, in many places, the process is still analog - i.e., with pen and paper. Mario Voge, Lead Strategic Growth Manager Europe at Swisscom Trust Services, explains how it can be made faster and easier for buyers and sellers.

Despite the chip shortage and other bottlenecks in the supply chains, Black Friday will offer shoppers attractive deals again this year. In the meantime, not only online retailers are participating in the pre-Christmas discount campaign, but also many shops in the cities. The latest electrical appliances and gadgets, as are household appliances or unique jewelry pieces, are trendy. Consumers who want to avoid paying the reduced price in full immediately can make use of the installment payment option in many shops.

Written form requirement as a sticking point

However, what can be done online with just a few clicks is often more complicated in a shop because the retailer needs a handwritten signature on the contract for the installment purchase. This means that the salesperson must first fill it out with the correct data, then print it out and present it to the customer, and, after the customer has checked and signed the contract, copy it and hand one copy to the customer. This takes much time and discourages salespeople from advising other customers. However, with the help of a qualified electronic signature (QES), equivalent to a handwritten signature in many cases, this process can be implemented more quickly, conveniently, and efficiently for all parties involved.

The customer needs his ID card or passport to prove his identity and his mobile phone to register a two-factor authentication method "2FA method" (for example, via SMS or an approved 2FA app). Once identified and registered, he can sign contracts digitally with a QES. Instead of paper, the customer can read the agreement directly on a tablet and is prompted via a so-called signature request on his mobile phone to declare his intent to sign and thus sign the installment contract. Everything is without paper or pen, at any time and from anywhere.

Exploiting the advantages of online trading in business

For the customer, this means more security than with the conventional conclusion of a contract on paper. Not only does a QES comply with the written form according to BGB § 126, but it is also easier to trace and has the advantage of long-term proof. In addition, he receives his copy of the contract directly by e-mail in his mailbox and no longer on paper - with the latter, there is always the risk that it will be damaged in some form, become illegible, or even be accidentally disposed of. At the same time, with a mobile phone and ID card, he only needs two items that most people usually have with them at all times.

Retailers can reduce the contract signing process to minutes, as their salespeople no longer have to constantly run from the salesroom to the backroom for printing and copying. They also ensure that customers don't abandon the process in a huff. While such a solution is optional for small traders with only a few customers daily, it is suitable for medium-sized traders and trading groups. Since the process is not limited to the agreement of installment payments but can be extended at will to other use cases, such as the conclusion of a mobile phone contract, retailers can now offer their customers the same convenience in-store that was previously only possible online.

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