When Technology and Policy Converge
Life is more efficient and simpler today because of technology. In 2016, instead of driving to an ATM, I do all of my banking from my phone. I can check my daughter’s medical test results from her pediatrician online. I can even use an app to file my taxes in 10 minutes without leaving the couch.
What’s more, these innovations are streamlining processes in highly regulated industries. When done right, the technology is not just more convenient, it’s better. Consumers spend less time, pay less money, and have more information. Businesses are more efficient and can reduce costly errors or fraud. So, why hasn’t technology been able to improve other regulated and cumbersome processes?
Consider the process of notarizing a document. Notarizing serves as an important part of the American economy. While any document can be signed, certain documents must be verified with an official Notary Public. Need a power of attorney or to execute a will? Are you applying for a medical license or transferring funds to a new retirement account? If so, you likely need a notary.
The size of the notary market is incredible — 1.2 billion transactions are notarized in the U.S. each year, all requiring a physical presence. Every month, there are approximately 360,000 searches for notaries on Google, and those searches do not even cover areas where notaries are required as part of larger processes, like mortgage closings.
Despite its continued importance for finance, real estate, medical, and other industries, the notary process is still remarkably outdated. We all have personal horror stories about getting important documents notarized. The mad scramble of taking time off work during normal business hours to find someone located nearby to eyeball your ID and confirm you are who you say you are. The process is painful and time consuming and has not kept up with the needs of today’s dramatically evolved, mobile, tech-enabled world.
Why has no one fixed the antiquated notary system? The simple answer is that the law and the technology needed to converge. The good news is that the time has finally come, and the Commonwealth of Virginia is leading the way. In 2011, Virginia passed Senate Bill 827 and House Bill 2318 outlining Virginia statutes, which allow appropriately certified Virginia notaries to complete remote notarizations via live video call. Furthermore, a document remotely notarized in Virginia is valid across state lines due to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution and state laws that specifically address and accept out of state notarizations. With the recent advances in technology for ID verification and WebRTC (Real-Time Communication) making live video calls across devices easier to facilitate, we are now at a point where technology and policy have successfully converged.
Technology, along with the newer laws, can offer people and businesses from across the country the ability to legally notarize documents electronically, from anywhere using Virginia electronic notaries. Software can improve every aspect of the notary industry and process from the inconvenience of finding and meeting an agent in person, to the lack of identity verification tools, to archaic paper journal record keeping.
Imagine the convenience of being able to notarize a document at any time, from any location, with a higher level of security, all within a few minutes. Technology and policy have finally met on the same page. The simple and critical process of notarization, which touches many of the industries that impact our everyday lives, is now available online to the same mobile generation that is choosing their dates by swiping. We now have the perfect storm to take a step in the right direction in today’s tech-enabled economy and bring legal notarization into the modern era.