In a recent industry survey conducted by InfoTrack, 40 per cent of real estate agent respondents reported concerns about fraudulent activity when using electronic and digital signature technology. The hyper-vigilance that seems to dissuade agents from digitising contracts doesn’t seem to apply to the same degree of scrutiny to good old-fashioned fraud.
The survey indicated that only 2.17 per cent of agents use an app to verify the identity of the registered owner of the property; only 53.62 per cent have internal processes for identity verification that are followed by all staff; and only 39.13 per cent of agents surveyed were aware of and following fair trading guidelines in relation to identity verification.
Like other kinds of social panic, electronic signing seems to have become a symbol for a virtual bogeyman – although the facts seem to indicate that electronic signatures are certainly as legitimate and arguably even more secure than pen to paper forms, particularly given the reported complacency when it comes to traditional signature verification.
We have the technology to completely digitise a property transaction from agency appointment to exchange, with checks, logs and verification that ensure a secure transaction from nose to tail. With electronic transactions recognised as legally valid for almost 150 years, the legitimacy of the electronic signature is established and the efficacy of the digital transaction shouldn’t be lost to rhetoric and panic about fraud. Across the Commonwealth and all states and territories, there has been legislative framework enacted in the Electronic Transaction Acts to enable a digital economy and create neutrality on the form of the signature – giving electronic and digital signing the same weight as wet-ink signing.
Fraud exists in paper and electronic format, yet digitisation provides enhanced tools for protection, detection and prosecution. The fear of fraud in the electronic transaction is, indeed, a disproportionate panic – and the cost of that hesitation is vulnerability to disruptive new players who will embrace it and give customers the speed and efficiency they experience in other modern transactions.
Australia’s future is digital. Companies like InfoTrack are helping to bridge the technological gap between the traditional sectors of property (real estate, law, finance and government) so that we can move towards a digital future with confidence.
InfoTrack is hosting “The Gift of Time” Roadshows to help bridge the real estate and legal sectors of the property industry and offer integrated digital solutions for customers as they journey through the respective moving parts of a property transaction. Infotrack offers solutions that support the customer experience and help to eradicate instances of fraud, while giving customers, real estate agents and conveyancers the gift of time.