Author: Nik Fuchs

Growth market electronic signatures: How digital businesses can profit

The handwritten signature is often still a last analogue obstacle in digital contract processes. For this reason, there is a great market potential in eliminating this last media disruption to a seamless customer journey. In Europe alone, the volume could grow to over USD $10 billion by 2030 - according to the results of a Deloitte study* commissioned by Swisscom Trust Services. Nik Fuchs, CEO of the trust services provider, interprets the results in detail and highlights business opportunities.  

By 2030, the e-signature market in Europe has the potential to increase its worth by seven times, reaching approximately USD $10.5 billion. This remarkable growth is projected from its starting point of just under $1.5 billion in 2023. To put it into another perspective, the German market, being the largest in Europe, has the potential to grow from approximately USD $270 million to about USD $2.1 billion in this period. These are the findings of a market analysis and forecast conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Swisscom Trust Services*.

In addition, the entire signature market is further broken down into identifications, signing platforms and signature certificates. In Germany, the signing platforms segment is particularly dominant, with a 78 percent share of the total e-signature market. In contrast, the market share for identification solutions is comparatively low at only six percent - leaving a 16 percent share of value creation for certificates.  

Especially the large "signing platform" segment is interesting for companies that want to generate additional revenue with electronic signatures. According to the Deloitte study, this market segment in Germany already has a volume of more than USD $200 million and could grow to USD $790 million by 2027. So there is great potential for companies that want to enter the market. For example, providers of DMS and similar solutions can integrate e-signatures relatively easily into their existing offerings and become a signature platform themselves. For existing customers of these companies, this path is very convenient because they do not have to deal with a new provider to integrate e-signatures into their processes. However, service providers must pay attention to the level of the signature. But first the question: What is driving this development and is the optimistic market assessment realistic?

Trust will play a key role in the future digital economy

The more the economy becomes digital, the more topics such as identification and authentication - in short, trust - will become important, because everyone wants to undstand and ensure who you doing business with in the online space. Therefore, there is an increasing need for innovative security solutions in order to be able to conduct sensitive business over the internet and to protect citizens' data in the best way possible. In the context of digital administration, user experience focus,  paperless office, and also CO2 reduction, the digital signature plays an important role as the last obstacle in eliminating media disruptions. Software companies and other digital service providers that integrate a digital signature feature into their services can create added value for their customers. As a result, they can conclude contracts better, faster and cheaper than in analogue way. Thanks to end-to-end digitization, contract management and traceability are also significantly simplified in the same process. All this leads to an optimized UX for customers and enables companies to save costs and accelerate processes. Following, demand will increase, but also new business opportunities will arise for signature solution providers. Considering these factors, it is clear that the market will experience a significant boost with substantial growth rates.

Not all signatures are the same

Electronic signatures are divided by the legislator into different levels: there is simple, advanced and qualified signature. According to the EU regulation eIDAS, only qualified electronic signature (QES) is equivalent to a handwritten signature and thus suitable for contract contents that are subject to written form requirement. Examples of such contracts are loan or leasing contracts or fixed-term employment contracts. In addition, the QES also has advantages in other respects: In case of doubt, its authenticity does not have to be proven in court, but refuted. Companies that want to offer legally secure digital alternatives, even for sensitive business areas of the economy, should therefore definitely rely on qualified signatures.  

However, there are complex regulations and laws (e.g. eIDAS regulation with thousands of pages) to comply with when issueing and receiving a qualified signature certificates. In addition, there continous compliance checks - at considerable cost - conducted and approved by official auditors and authorities. Therefore, you can observe a concentration of few trust service providers specializing in issuing the demanding certificates in the market. Companies that want to implement their own signature solutions can obtain the required certificates from these market players and also benefit from their high expertise.

*Methodology: Deloitte estimated the sizes and growth of the sub-markets per country based on a market study and by means of assumptions and triangulation. In addition, more than 20 expert interviews were conducted to validate assumptions and generate qualitative data points. For the 12 countries studied (Germany, UK, France, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Denmark and Norway), local Deloitte Legal departments were consulted for regulatory clarifications.