Dubai: Everyone in the UAE is now able to digitally sign documents using their Emirates ID.
The system allows residents to sign documents electronically with their Emirates ID card and is robust enough to protect against forgery, said an expert.
“In very simple terms,” said Mahdi Alami Hamdan, technical manager of Dubai-based system integrator Al Taqnyah, “our signature solution allows to digitally sign documents and protect against forgery.”
The system can be used to sign health insurance, bank loans, tenancy contracts or even car rentals -- anywhere signatures are needed. “The difference is only the level of integration required with the systems,” said Hamdan.
Al Taqnyah, a five-year-old Dubai company, specialises in e-services using the LetterGen platform. It follows the same system used in Belgium (population 11.14 million), where digital signatures are linked to the national ID system.
“What’s unique is this solution is empowered by an out-of-the-box support for Emirates ID Smart Card, making it fully localised to the UAE. Since everyone has an Emirates ID, everyone is enabled to digitally sign documents,” said Hamdan.
What are the benefits for end-users?
“They (e-signatures) can be used by everyone in the country. There’s no extra investment needed for public key infrastructure (PKI), dongles or custom signature cards,” he said.
A public-key infrastructure makes the secure use and management of digital certificates possible, in which the signer holds an encrypted private key (known only to him).
“It is possible to include one or multiple types of signatures in the same document -- using Emirates ID (PKI-based), handwritten electronic signatures (a signature is fed to the document using a signature pad device), or a combination of both,” he said.
The UAE was one of the early adopters in the Middle East, with the Emirates ID card as its major PKI initiative starting 2003.
Dr. Ali M. Al Khouri, Director General of the Emirates Identity Authority, cited the benefits of digital signatures in a paper published in the International Journal of Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology Research, and stressed getting it right from the start. Dr Al Khouri wrote: “The UAE PKI infrastructure is only in its beginning phase and will grow as the need for e-services increases.”
The UAE, now the world’s second-most fibre-optic wired nation (after South Korea), launched a fresh initiative this year to move its e-government systems to m-government (mobile government).
Yassir Al Naeem, Managing Director of Al Taqnyah, said the solution can expand the Emirates ID’s use in all dealings – especially as electronic signature.
Al Naeem said: “This aligns with the Emirates ID Authority strategy and complements the UAE’s vision for e-services”.
“Paper documents are error-prone and require a lot of manual interventions and audits,” said Luc Vandergoten, managing director of LetterGen NV. “By implementing our paperless and electronic signature solutions, companies can automate all business processes … while ensuring document integrity.”
Different types of digital signatures can be combined to enhance security or simply to keep the feel of handwritten signatures on digital documents. “People still like seeing the shape of their signatures to believe that it is a realistic signing process,” said Hamdan.
Digital signature uses
- Lands and property
- Car rentals