The fancy definition of an electronic signature is “An electronic signature is data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form, and which is used by the signatory to sign”
They include typing your name at the bottom of an electronic document, a scanned handwritten signature incorporated into an electronic document, clicking “I accept” or “I agree”, drawing your signature on screen with a finger or stylus or using a web based esigning platform for example.
Electronic signatures are only as secure as the processes and technology used to create them so you have to factor this in when using them.
Not all contracts have to be signed, but there are some contracts which absolutely have to be signed or they are not valid – such as a contract for the sale of land for example.
Generally speaking an electronic signature will be sufficient as a signature to most documents where there is also evidence that the signatory intended to authenticate the contract. However, some contracts may have certain criteria that have to be met before it is deemed to have been validly signed or binding on the parties, such as witnessing of the signature for example. They are not appropriate for Wills and certain requirements have to be fulfilled when it comes to contracts for the sale of land.
Electronic signatures are useful but not universal so you should consider obtaining legal advice before you move your business over to electronic signatures for everything.