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pbDigital, a division of PBSAA Division of PBSA

Advanced Electronic Signatures

These certificates are available to customers individuals and organisations that wish to transact and communicate with clear legal status when signing documents electronically.

pbDigital is fully integrated with Trust Centre  (South African Post Office Certificate Authority), a certified distributor and certified face-to-face installer for the provisioning of Class-4 Advanced Electronic Signatures as described in the South African Electronic and Communications Transactions (ECT) ACT of 2002 for high-assurance Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES).

AES certificates is a class (Class-4) digital certificate and needs to be integrated with pbDigital's CoSign application or SigniFlow application to enable document and email signing.

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As a member of Adobe’s Approved Trust List (AATL), Trust Centre signing certificates are compatible with Adobe Acrobat/Reader 8.0+.

A high level of independent identity authentication is provided through the collection of personal identity information, including fingerprints, and the verification of the information provided with the Department of Home Affairs. Advanced Electronic Signatures are strongly recommended for strong authentication, signing and encryption of electronic communications, transactions and processes which require by law this type of signature.

The Trust Centre's Digital certificate has been fully accredited by the Web Trust Certification and the specifications of standards like SANS (ISO) 21188, PKIX, PKCS & X509(3). Compliance to all the relevant standards is the foundation on which the SAPO Trust Centre's reliable, integrated and functional service delivery is built.

With Trust Centre's Class-4 AES certificates, you can:

  • Sign and certify electronic documents to prove authorship (identity) as described under Section 13 of the ECT Act and accredited by the South African Accreditation Authority (SAAA) under mandate of the South African Department of Communications
  • Finalise contents and secure against future tampering
  • Add customisable approval signatures, such as an image of your physical signature or an engineering seal using SigniFlow with document workflow
  • Create long term signatures
  • Use the SigniFlow document workflow with audit trail services to support non-repudiation and audit trails
  • Comply with the South African Electronic and Communications Act of 2002 with respect to the described Advanced electronic Signature.
  • Digitally sign emails

Certificate Management with pbDigital managed Cloud-based PKI

AES Certificates and Public Keys are centrally stored and managed in our centralised, cloud-based FIPS140-2 Level 3 HSM (Hardware Security Module). This highly secure, industry compliant HSM infrastructure is responsible for the interaction between the user and the Certificate Authority (CA), and the user's signing application or integrated document management application (i.e. SharePoint) and the cryptographic functions necessary to digitally sign a document or electronic message.


This graph indicates by illustration the estimated legal weighting of different signature types

Electronic Signatures

X.509 Personal Digital Certificates

X.509 CDS Digital Certificates

X.509 Advanced Electronic Signatures

Section 13-2 of The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) of 2002 confirms specifically that contracts cannot be denied legal enforceability merely because they are concluded electronically or through data messages. Law in South Africa makes provision that wet (ink written) signatures are not necessarily required to make agreements legally binding. Agreements in general are deemed binding once the parties reach agreement, whether electronically, verbally, or on paper.

Just like in the physical world, it may from time to time be necessary to prove the validity of an agreement in court by presenting evidence. Our digital signature workflow system, SigniFlow, provides a digital audit trail (also called audit log), which is kept with the document in the SigniFlow workspace. It is a chronological set of records that provide documentary evidence of the sequence of activities that have affected the document which are admissible in evidence under section 15 of the ECT Act of 2002 to support the existence, authenticity and valid acceptance of a contract.

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