Research from Adobe has found that Australian businesses are missing out on cost efficiency and environmental benefits as they lag behind the US and the UK in the adoption of electronic signature solutions.
The research, which surveyed over 100 customers in Australia in January, found that only 1.5 percent of Australian businesses are using e-signature solutions versus 12 percent of US and 4.5 percent of UK companies.
Adobe's vice president of Adobe EchoSign Jon Perera said the majority of respondents blame the government for the lack of uptake.
"Seventy six percent of Australians said they think the government needs to do more to drive the adoption of these signatures," he said.
"In other words, until they see government mainstream it and really use it internally, we won't get the ball rolling down the hill or get the momentum we'd like to see."
Perera said businesses are recommending for all Commonwealth departments and agencies to adopt e-signatures by implementing them on government forms, to show the public it is "perfectly legal, accepted, and safe".
At the same time, the research found that 100 percent of respondents agree that e-signature solutions can increase business efficiencies, with the belief that signing on the dotted line on a piece of paper is archaic compared to a lot of other business processes that have gone digital.
Perera said the number one reason why companies are moving to electronic signatures is to save money, but at the same time enable businesses to be more mobile in obtaining signatures, no matter where they are.
"Along with cost savings, electronic signatures can also help business and governments to streamline workflows and increase efficiency as contracts can be signed on any device, at any time," he said.
But there are also significant environmental benefits from paper reduction, Perera said.
"The environment is one of our biggest concerns for our customers, particularly in a time of drought and climate change," he said.
"We're doing more than 2.5 million contracts per month through e-signatures, and the average length of these contracts is nine pages, so we calculated in 2013, the amount of paper companies were saving was equivalent to the size of Manhattan.
"What's much more sinister about the cost of paper is the amount of water required to make paper. We've got a 'green meter' that calculates how many litres of water is required to make a certain amount of paper. So countries, cities, and states are experiencing water shortages, and a new millennial workforce demanding to work in places that are green, this is a really positive step."
While adoption rates in Australia are currently low, Perera has predicted that e-signatures will become more prevalent over the next three years. There are expectations that at least 40 percent of businesses will be using the solution by then, and this will be driven by consumers because "nobody is going to want to waste their time signing paperwork anymore".