Property firm ERA rolls out digital signatures for tenancy agreements with new SingPass feature

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

SINGAPORE - Property firm ERA Realty Network is introducing digital signatures for tenancy agreements, helping its agents save time that would have otherwise been spent meeting property owners in person for wet-ink signatures.

The move will also benefit property owners who are based overseas, and help agents to minimise physical contact when servicing clients as the Covid-19 pandemic drags on.

ERA, which announced the initiative at its Q4 Career Advancement Day on Wednesday (Nov 11), is the first company in the private sector to pilot the recently launched Sign with SingPass service.

"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 officer Jack Chua.

Sign with SingPass supports digital signatures on all major platforms such as DocuSign, iText, Netrust, Adobe, OneSpan, Dedoco, and Kofax. ERA is using Dedoco's digital document solution.

The 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 needed 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 the scan 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 users' faces or fingerprints to authenticate and complete the digital signing process.

(From left) Kevin Lim, ERA Chief Agency Director, Doris Ong, ERA Chief Operating Officer, Eugene Lim, ERA Key Executive Officer, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, Jack Chua, ERA Chief Executive Officer, Tan Choon Hong, APAC Realty Board Independent Director, Marcus Chu, ERA Chief Operating Officer. Gary Lau, ERA Chief Agency Director. PHOTO: ERA

Confidentiality is maintained as the documents themselves are not 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 this website. The service is free for now.

In his keynote speech at Wednesday's ERA event, which recognises its top performers, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee urged the real estate sector to take charge of and push ahead with its digitalisation efforts to improve service delivery to 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.

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

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

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

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