DocuSign Inc., an e-signature company partially owned by the National Association of Realtors, has launched a service that integrates notaries public into an electronic document’s workflow in the DocuSign platform.
Notaries public — those citizens authorized by a state to witness the signing of documents when in-person verification is required — are governed by each state’s laws. Therefore, DocuSign is rolling out the service on a state-by-state basis starting with North Carolina.
Other electronic notary services exist, DocuSign Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tom Gonser told Inman News, but DocuSign’s service allows users of its platform to find, assign and validate (in states with this capability) notaries and make them an integral part of a document’s lifecycle as outlined in the system.
The electronic aspect of the new notary service does not mean that a notary no longer has to be physically present to render his or her services, Gonser said. A notary still must be there in person to witness an electronic document’s e-signing, but the electronic process, completed via computer, tablet or smartphone, ensures that all documents are correct and up-to-date and that the process is secure and properly documented, he said.
Not all states’ notary requirements and setup are the same, Gonser said, but for North Carolina, which adopted DocuSign as the state’s e-signature service last November, the firm has integrated with the state’s notary database, which helps DocuSign validate notaries and its users find and assign notaries in locations where they’re needed.
The notary process in DocuSign may be initiated only by a notary, Gonser illustrated during a demo of the service. It begins when they enter their login information into the system. They then pass control to the signer who e-signs the document and then hands control back over to the notary who must re-enter a password to prove that he or she is still present and then sign and place their seal in the document.
Screen shot of a sample DocuSign e-notorized document, complete with a notary seal.
Notaries may also maintain their official notary journal within DocuSign, Gonser said.
Gonser expects the notary service, which is free for DocuSign’s users at the moment but will have a fee in the future, to be available in other states soon. The specific integration in DocuSign’s system will be different, however, as some states don’t maintain notary databases and have different requirements.
DocuSign has deep connections to the real estate industry.
In 2009, NAR invested an undisclosed amount in DocuSign, which is offered to NAR members for 10 percent off its yearly rate.
Last year, it was integrated into the electronic form software from zipLogix LLC, and in May acquired real estate transaction management platform Cartavi.
Editor’s note: Tom Gonser is DocuSign’s chief strategy officer and founder not its CEO, as a previous version of this story incorrectly stated.