What is an Electronic Signature?
According to Wikipedia, "An electronic signature can be as simple as a name entered in an electronic document."
Electronic Signatures are not the same as Digital Signatures
According to Wikipedia, Electronic signatures are a legal concept distinct from digital signatures, a cryptographic mechanism often used to implement electronic signatures.
According to the FDIC "ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES ARE 100% LEGAL"
The E-Sign Act allows the use of electronic records to substitute electronic signatures in the same instances whereas written signatures were used. The caveat is that the consumer has clearly expressed consent to such use and has not withdrawn such consent.
How long has this been in effect?
The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act), was signed into law on June 30, 2000, The law provides a general rule of validity for electronic records and signatures for transactions in or affecting domestic and international commerce.
1. Prior consent must be given and the option to use paper records
Before obtaining a consumer's consent, financial institutions must provide a clear and noticeable statement to inform the consumer of their option to use paper or opt-out.
2. Consumer must be made aware of the hardware and software requirements to access the records.
Before consenting to the use of an electronic record, a consumer must be provided with a statement of the hardware and software requirements for access to and retention of electronic records.
3. Record Retention
The E-Sign Act requires a financial institution to maintain electronic records accurately reflecting the information contained in applicable contracts, notices or disclosures and that they remain accessible to all persons who are legally entitled to access for the period required by law in a form that is capable of being accurately reproduced for later reference. Ref: FDIC article.