Businesses have been left frustrated after temporary rules put in place enabling electronic signatures on documents during Covid-19 expired meaning many are having to revert to paper and pen.
The rules enabling companies to electronically execute documents under section 127 of the Corporation Act expired on March 21 and there are concerns they will not be reinstated until May at the earliest, if at all.
Venture capital firm partner Niki Scevak of Blackbird Ventures said investing deeds were used in almost every transaction the startup industry and having to print out documents and sign them added unnecessary red tape.
“It is Chinese water torture, each layer of red tape adds so much friction that does not need to be there,” he said. “We are in 2021 and electronic signatures are not valid, it is just an indication of how backwards Australia is in technology terms.”
Mr Scevak said there did not appear to be any argument against digital signatures.
“I don’t think anyone is saying ‘Wow those digital signatures are not working out and we need to go back to wet ink signatures’,” he said. “I haven’t heard anyone make the positive case, it is just the apathy of not modernising legislation.”
Tech giant Adobe has been one of beneficiaries of the take-up of digital signatures during the coronavirus pandemic through increased use of its Adobe Sign product.
Adobe Asia Pacific president Simon Tate said sales had gone “absolutely through the roof”.
Mr Tate said he was waiting to see what the government would do but its role was to make the life of its citizens easier.