Digital security concept. A person dressed in blue touches their finger to a virtual lock © Adobe Stock

Cyber-security is a significant concern for all of us. Every day, reputable organisations attempt to take all reasonable steps to protect their confidential data and that of their customers.

Encrypted signatures are one simple but powerful tool in the digital security arsenal.

But what are they, and what part do they play in your UK to NZ pension transfer?

What is a digital signature?

Writing your signature, scanning it, saving it as a digital file (for example, a JPG or PNG), and inserting it into a document is not a secure method of signing anything. It’s easily copied, and the document could be altered without your knowledge.

That’s absolutely not what we’re talking about here.

When created correctly through a legitimate platform (such as Adobe or DocuSign), an encrypted digital signature is like an electronic fingerprint. It is unique to that user, providing authenticity and verification of their identity. Once in place, a document is locked; no changes can be made. For these reasons, digital signatures are regarded as more secure than traditional handwritten (“wet”) signatures.

Forbes Advisor sums it up nicely:

Electronic signatures are superior to their ink-based ancestors. They’re instant, portable, legally binding, and they reduce our harm to the environment. And they’re often backed by technology that ensures the signature is authentic.

The reduced environmental harm refers to having to use less power and less paper since it’s not necessary to print and re-scan documents.

If you want to understand more about how digital signatures work, especially the technical aspects, you might like to read this article from Tech Target.

How are encrypted signatures used in the UK to NZ pension transfer process?

All things considered, you would think that every business is embracing the benefits of digital signatures for themselves and their clients.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Despite all the advantages of digital signatures, the administrators of UK pension schemes still insist on hard copy paperwork with wet signatures. And that’s not all. “Many of these organisations have no external email systems, meaning we have to rely on global postal services,” explains GBPensions director Tony Chamberlain.

“Pre-pandemic, a typical pension transfer would take up to six months. Now, we’re looking at 10 months or more, even with GBPensions’ UK admin service, which we set up specifically to try and expedite the process.

“Digitally encrypted signatures obviously have the potential to speed up pension transfers and streamline the whole process for all parties.

“All in all, it’s extremely frustrating and disappointing. We can only hope the UK companies join the 21st century sooner rather than later! In the meantime, our clients can be assured that we’ll always work as efficiently as possible to achieve their desired results.”