The dematerialisation of contracts becomes child's play

By Nicole Hirsh
Updated: 20 May 2020, first publication: August 2019
how-to backgroundThe dematerialisation of contracts becomes child's play

Online contract signing is one of the most important keys to the digital transformation of organizations; both companies and public procurement are involved. The main advantage of dematerialisation is the simplification of the process of signing and archiving contracts.

In this article, we explain how using contract dematerialisation has a competitive advantage in commercial (to gain customers) or HR (to recruit a profile that is in high demand in the market) contexts, for example. Adopting electronic signatures with an online tool is the solution to signing, having your contracts signed faster, and archiving them while retaining their legal value.

Dematerialisation of contracts


The dematerialisation of contracts is a process that is taking on an increasing importance within companies and public organizations, as part of their digital transformation.

The benefits of contract dematerialisation

Dematerialisation makes it possible to speed up the signing and archiving of contracts while guaranteeing their security.

The result: a triple reward for contract dematerialisation enthusiasts: save time, save money, and gain productivity.

The dematerialisation of contracts also raises the question of document management and archiving. Having a digital contract library with electronic records to store, archive, search and find contracts easily is a real competitive advantage.

Dematerialized contract vs. paper contract: what legal value?

Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 Section 4, article 25 of the eIDAS Regulation indicates that: 

A qualified electronic signature shall have the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature.

In other words, a digital contract is equivalent to a handwritten contract in the eyes of the law: they have the same legal value.

However, two conditions must be respected:

  • Clearly authenticate the contract signatories,
  • Guarantee the authenticity and integrity of the document.

The advantages of dematerialisation

The advantages of dematerialisation are many. With regard to contracts more specifically, it:

  • Simplifies contract management, reduces document exchanges by mail or email, reduces the number of prints and the paper consumption they generate, and then eliminates document scanning;
  • Limits the risk of document loss, as everything is stored securely online;
  • Reduces contract signature delays, and helps to achieve objectives faster - for example, it can "accelerate" a sale by having the customer sign a document easily online;
  • Provides a competitive advantage and greater responsiveness than your competitors in the event of a sale or recruitment, for example;
  • Facilitates online collaborative document management: rights management makes it possible to give or not to give access to collaborators, partners or customers to certain contracts;
  • Ensures the legal value of contracts (timestamp, authentication of signatories, verification of their identity, etc.);
  • Guarantees the security of contracts, in particular through the digital archiving of documents.

Which contracts are affected by dematerialisation?

Here are some use cases in which contracts can be dematerialised:

  • Commercial contracts for the sale of a product or service,
  • Employment contracts,
  • Rental contracts (rental leases),
  • Contracts for subscribing to an online service (e.g. insurance, mutual insurance, banking),
  • Partnership contracts,
  • Contract amendments.

How to dematerialize a contract?

Dematerialized contract management

Dematerializing a contract can be done by:

  • The digitisation of documents, and in this case, you will pay particular attention to the legal value of the contract signatures;
  • The creation, signing and archiving of contractual documents online using electronic signature software and electronic safes.

Can we sign an employment contract online? Absolutely! All types of contracts can be signed electronically, as seen above. We can only advise you to adopt these processes entirely online for all your contracts, while avoiding scanning:

  • The public key signature of the contract,
  • Archiving with probative value,
  • Centralization of contracts in an electronic safe.

Do not depend on postal exchanges and the moving of signatories to guarantee the legal value of your documents any more. Dematerialisation ensures the explicit consent of the signatories as well as the inalterability of the documents, without having the disadvantages of paper.

How to sign an online contract?

Several software programs exist to electronically sign your documents, dematerialise your contracts, or simply manage your dematerialised contracts and thus make your company take the digital shift.

Hellosign and SignNow are among the best known; we present three others:


DocuSign, electronic signature solution

DocuSign is a recognized electronic signature solution. It reduces the signature workflow and speeds up the validation and signature of its users' contracts. DocuSign, certified in compliance with current standards (eIDAS, ANSSI, etc.), is positioned as a customer loyalty asset in its own right.

Docusign's strong points:

  • The API allows you to connect the software to many tools, including Salesforce, to sign commercial contracts,
  • A simple, fast and secure digital signature solution,
  • A mobile application to manage a valid signature wherever you are.

Some customers: Banque Casino, Urgo, Salesforce


Electronic Signature Software
Learn more about DocuSign


UniverSign promises an average increase of 30% in the number of contracts signed with its users. This trusted third party also issues electronic certificates and allows contracts to be time-stamped.

Universign, trusted third party that issues electronic certificates

UniverSign's strengths:

  • A web and mobile application, ideal for signing mobile contracts,
  • A simple use for all,
  • Many APIs for integrating Universign into your existing tools.

Some customers: SFR, Total, SwissLife


Electronic signature software solution
Learn more about Universign


Yousign allows you to sign, alone or with others, one online document or more, guaranteeing compliance with legal conditions. Available on mobile phones, this tool simplifies the signature process and saves valuable time spent on high value-added tasks, rather than time-consuming administrative tasks.

A trusted third party, Yousign is also an electronic safe for the legal archiving of your contracts.

Yousign, a trusted third party that is an electronic safe for the legal archiving of contracts

Yousign's strengths:

  • National and European certified solution,
  • Fast and secure signature process,
  • Quality user experience.

Some customers: Bpifrance, Allianz, PMU


The simpler way of saying yes
Learn more about Yousign

The management of dematerialised contracts with ease

Finally, we offer you some advice on how to manage contracts in a paperless manner with complete peace of mind. When choosing your digital signature software, pay attention to:

  • Data hosting - hosting in the EU ensures a maximum level of security,
  • GDPR and EIDAS compliancy,
  • The different levels of electronic signatures available,
  • Software certifications (ETSI, eIDAS, ANSSI, etc.),
  • Integration with your existing tools to further optimize your processes.
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