The government on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding with commercial banks that would pave the way for the introduction of e-signatures, a catalyst in the state’s long-delayed course towards modernisation and digital transformation.
“Today is a landmark, it’s an important day for our transition to digital economy and digital society,” Minister of Innovation Kyriacos Kokkinos said. “We are giving people and businesses the capability of being able to sign electronically, carry out their transactions without physical presence in either government departments or businesses.”
E-signature does not need the presence of witnesses and is legally secured.
“I want to believe that Cypriot society, people, businesses, will embrace this long-awaited element of electronic identification… and I hope that in a short time the largest part of transactions in public services and between private citizens will be done electronically, if possible,” Kokkinos said.
Trade ministry permanent secretary Stelios Chimonas said the agreement with the banks would enable the successful penetration of the e-signature into the economy.
“The e-signature is expected to eliminate many bureaucratic procedures since it ensures the authenticity of the documents that are signed electronically and certifies who signs the document,” he said.
Cyprus’ national plan for electronic identification provides for the use of two certificates: electronic identification for access to information systems, and the qualified electronic signature, or e-signature, which has the same legal force with a handwritten one.
Completion of the project would enable transactions without requiring the physical presence of the individual: submission of applications and documents, and other business, domestic and overseas.
The certificates will be issued by qualified trust service providers. The complete project is expected to go online by the end of the year after the necessary legislation is put in place.
At present, Cyprus will be introducing the e-signature which will be valid for one year.
WHAT IS AN E-SIGNATURE
An e-signature is a coded series of numbers and characters issued by a qualified trust service provider, which in this case will be card transaction processing company JCC.
The e-signature can be used to sign agreements, documents, applications, and in general conduct any electronic transaction that previously required a handwritten signature or someone’s physical presence.
To secure an e-signature, an individual or company should apply to their bank. If they cannot help, then one can go to JCC. It is noted that banks are at the stage of planning and development services utilising e-signatures. Each bank will announce when and which services it will provide.
It is expected that the time needed to complete the process of securing an e-signature is three working days. Processing times may change depending on workload, procedures and planning of each organisation.
After securing the signature, an individual can use it in services that support the technology.
To place the signature, the holder would have to give their approval through an application installed on their smart phone, pc, or tablet.
For the time being, an e-signature will be valid for one year.
After the necessary legislation for the electronic identification is put in place, e-signatures will be valid for three years.
The holder of an e-signature can cancel it at any time through the qualified trust service provider’s portal, e.g https://trust.jcc.com.cy/ or by calling JCC on 22868500