ERA homes in on digital signatures for tenancy deals

Move will help agents save time with Sign with SingPass service

Property firm ERA Realty Network is introducing digital signatures for tenancy agreements, becoming the first company in the private sector to pilot the recently launched Sign with SingPass service.

The move will help its agents save time, as they will no longer need to meet property owners in person for signatures, and also minimise physical contact amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will also benefit property owners who are based overseas.

ERA announced the initiative at its Q4 Career Advancement Day yesterday to recognise its top performers.

"ERA is in full support of the Government's initiative to build a trusted digital ecosystem as we move towards an increasingly efficient and convenient Smart Nation," said ERA Singapore chief executive Jack Chua.

Sign with SingPass supports digital signatures on all major platforms such as DocuSign, iText, Netrust, Adobe, OneSpan, Dedoco, Tessaract.io and Kofax.

ERA is using Dedoco's digital document solution.

The Sign with SingPass service, developed by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), allows businesses to securely verify electronic signatures, which can be adopted for more legal and business documents that previously had to be signed physically.

By clicking on a document ready for signing on a computer within the digital document platform, a unique QR code will be launched.

Users then call up the SingPass Mobile app on their phone and launch a function to scan the QR code to initiate a signing request.

The signature is encrypted and linked to the signee, whose identity is automatically validated against the Government's database at the point of signing.

At the same time, the SingPass Mobile app will scan the user's face or fingerprint to authenticate and complete the digital signing process.

Confidentiality is maintained as the documents cannot be transferred between these platforms and GovTech.

Instead, only an encrypted, random code representing the signed document will be transferred.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is also piloting the technology for the digital signing of property caveats.

Private-sector organisations keen to use Sign with SingPass can register their interest at https://go.gov.sg/sign. The service is free for now.

Speaking at yesterday's ERA event, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee urged the real estate sector to take charge of and push ahead with digitalisation efforts to better serve customers.

"To survive and do well in a digital era, (property agencies) will need to ensure that both your real estate professionals and your technical teams, who build and support your digital platforms, receive the necessary training," said Mr Lee, who is also Minister in-charge of social services integration.

"Likewise, individual property agents must take charge of your own learning, and be proactive in upskilling yourselves."

ERA is also launching a WhatsApp-based chatbot, which calls up project information such as the number of available units for agents who need to input only a few keywords.

Previously, the agents had to contact the salesmen in charge of a specific project, or search for the information themselves on ERA's mobile platforms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2020, with the headline 'ERA homes in on digital signatures for tenancy deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe