E-signatures introduced by the Ministry of Innovation in cooperation with Cyprus banks

A long awaited and much needed reform has been unveiled by the Ministry of Innovation, when the government and the Association of Cyprus Banks (“ACB”) entered into a memorandum of understanding for the introduction of e-signatures on Friday, 8th May 2020.
 
E-signatures provide the ability to consent and sign documents and forms without the need of a handwritten signature or physical presence. This will modernize immensely the way that individuals interact with public services, their banks and each other providing for a fast and secure way to perform transactions and cutting significantly the bureaucratic red tape.
 
The Minister of Innovation, Mr. Kyriacos Kokkinos, expects that the introduction of e-signatures will usher a “small positive revolution” and help the transition to a “digital economy and digital society.” This reform appears more needed than ever considering the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity for governments, businesses and individuals to adapt accordingly.
 
The plan entails the use of two certificates. Firstly, an electronic identification that will be used to access the relevant systems and, secondly, an electronic signature, that will have the same legal force as a handwritten signature. The necessary certificates will be issued by Qualified Trust Service Providers. For the time being, the e-signature will be valid for a year while the electronic identification issued will be valid for three years with the option to renew.
 
The completed project is expected to be made available to the public close to the end of this year when the necessary legislation is passed.
 
The memorandum of understanding signed with the ACB aims to create synergies and help facilitate and expand the use of e-commerce and e-banking. Mr. Kokkinos noted that “today's signing of the Memorandum with the ACB paves the way for the widespread use of this powerful tool, a catalyst in the process of modernization and digital transformation of the state, whose ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of the Cypriot citizen.”
 
The General Manager of the ACB, Mr. Michalis Kammas, commented that “the electronic signature and electronic identification will expand the prospects of digitalization in our country, making transactions in the public and private sector, as well as the banking sector, easier and more direct."
 
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