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SPERS – helping drive the adoption of electronic signatures?

This morning’s American Banker has an article (subscription required) talking about the work of lawyers Jerry Buckley and David Whitaker (in the Washington office of Goodwin Procter LLP) helping to create an industry-led set of guidelines and standards (called SPERS) for using electronic signatures and digital records.

The goal is to fill the regulatory void that some blame for companies’ failure to take advantage of a three-year-old law meant to popularize electronic signatures. Their clients include Charles Schwab & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., General Electric’s GE Mortgage Corp., Citigroup Inc., Principal Financial Group, and Intuit Inc.

The group will be publishing the 1.0 version of its standard in August — selling it as a hardcopy document for $295. Most of the SPERS site is behind closed doors accessible only to members of the group but there is a synopsis and table of contents available (PDF).

While this looks like a very positive industry initiative, it’s irritating to see these kinds of groups attempting to do good work to move the world to a better place while ignoring the positive benefits of electronic distribution (hardcopy – what’s that?) at very low cost. It’s particularly annoying (self-defeating?) when a group like SPERS whose objectives include facilitating digital commerce is selling only hardcopy versions of its recommendations online! Please send them to Cluetrain, among others!

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