You may have heard RIN or RON recently as demand for these services increase dramatically due to COVID-19. As if we do not have enough acronyms already, we must add a few more to the list. So, what are these acronyms and why are they such a hot topic recently?
In-person electronic notarization (IPEN) is an electronic notarization that is performed while in physical presence of the signer. IPEN is a digital signature signing session done in person. It still requires the notary and signers to be present in the same room at the time of the digital signature being done on an electronic device such as a tablet or laptop. The notary can personally view the signer’s identification and perform the traditional notarial process of identity verification just like they would with a wet ink signed ceremony. IPEN has great value in real estate where it can create an electronic document that can be submitted to e-recording offices and other electronic systems. The catch with an IPEN is that it does not allow for social distancing, making it not feasible for businesses during a pandemic.
Remote Online Notarization (RON) is a fully remote and online notarization. It is not as simple as hopping onto a zoom call, it requires special technology that conforms to the notary’s state law. In Florida, a RON transaction requires extra identity verification procedures. Unless personally known, a notary public in the state of Florida performing a RON session must put participants in a notarization through identity verification services such as KBA and credential analysis, these are questions and processes to validate you are who you say you are, even though the notary is not physically within the presence of the signers. In addition to the extra steps required to perform a RON, the notary public must also be certificate to perform an online transaction in many states. In Florida, that means an extra 2-hour state approved RON course, $25,000 bond & insurance and registration as an online notary public. With current laws being state specific, some legislators are pushing for a nationwide standard. In March of 2020, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization (SECURE) Act of 2020 was introduced to the Senate as a bi-partisan effort to authorize and establish minimum standards for electronic and remote notarizations nationwide. The need for a remote option has never been greater and legislators across the country are rushing to pass executive orders to enable RON in their states. If you haven’t looked at adopting RON internally, I recommend starting the process of education yourself and your firm as early as possible as RON is not a technology that can be turned on overnight, it required education, training and buy in.
Remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) is a new concept adopted by states through executive orders. At the beginning of COVID-19, many states rushed to pass executive orders allowing for notarizations to be done remotely, even though they did not have RON laws in place. RIN introduced a melting pot of different rules and requirements for notarizing documents in states such as New York, which never passed a state RON law. RIN laws are changing daily through-out the US, it is imperative that notaries in RIN enabled states stay on top of legislative changes to make sure they are performing a compliant notarial process. An example RIN process is usually in line with a RON process, except instead of a digital signature, the document is wet ink signed and the documents are transmitted between the notary public and signers through the mail or scanned. Many states still require the same identity verification processes of a RON and the audio/video recording of the signing ceremony be stored as well. Just like COVID-19 will not be with us forever, we do not expect RIN to be either. Many of the executive orders were in direct correlation to the problems COVID-19 introduced and will expire after the emergency declarations subside.
Digitization of the notary public is here to stay and as customers want a more convenient and secure workflow, we expect IPEN, RIN and RON to become an essential offering for many businesses.