Cyprus Mail

E-signatures on the way, innovation minister says

After years of dragging its feet and now forced by the coronavirus crisis to implement e-government as soon as possible, the government will soon be announcing the introduction of electronic signatures, according to the minister of innovation and digital policy.

Kyriacos Kokkinos described e-signatures as a “small positive revolution” in the way the public works with the state, but also between private citizens.

E-signatures are a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. They can replace handwritten signatures in any process.

Discussions on the matter go back more than 10 years, with the state grappling with the technical issues for the past five years with a view of implementing in 2021.

“The urgent need due to the coronavirus has pushed us to think in a different way.”

Issuing a copy of a birth certificate, property transfer, applying to the registrar of companies, or just submitting documents, are some of the processes in which people must currently be physically present, sometimes along with a government officer.

“All these could be done electronically,” Kokkinos said.

The minister said the government was preparing to announce the introduction of the e-signature soon in cooperation with the bank association.

“This will bring a huge change to the better since people and businesses would be able to carry out transactions with an e-signature without the physical presence to sign documents,” Kokkinos said.

That applies to both state and private business, he said.

The e-signature will be made possible through credible certified service providers like JCC, the primary processor of card transactions.

“The legislation establishing the electronic signature exists since the law has been completed since 2018. We have completed the technical preparations needed and at this moment we are at the stage of announcing it,” Kokkinos said.

He said it is part of someone’s electronic identity, adding that there was a second part, which entails electronic verification.

With electronic verification one can prove their ID without necessitating their physical presence.

To be able to use the signature, a person’s id must first be verified either through their bank or by JCC.

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