Growing need for digital signatures gives Japanese firm a massive boost
Japan Times -- May 25
The coronavirus pandemic is yanking corporate Japan into the 21st century, forcing businesses to embrace digital signatures and boosting the shares of Bengo4.com Inc., one of the few local providers of the service.

Shares of the 240-person firm, whose name is a Japanese play on words of “lawyers-dot-com,” hit a record on Wednesday, giving the Tokyo-based company a market valuation of about ¥191 billion ($1.77 billion), 22 times higher than its 2014 public debut. Revenue for its cloud-based signing service is set to double this year, fueling growth, President Yosuke Uchida said.

While DocuSign Inc. and other firms have been offering web services for signing contracts and legal documents for more than a decade, bureaucrats and businesses have remained steadfastly loyal to paper, hanko stamps and the fax machine. Now, they’re being pushed into the digital age as consumers, employees, companies and government offices restrict their movements to prevent the spread of the pathogen that has infected millions worldwide.

“There’s no question that usage of electronic contracts will become widespread,” Uchida said in an interview. “The day will come when using electronic contracts becomes the usual practice. The virus has significantly advanced that timing.”

Uchida estimates Japan’s market for cloud-based signing can reach ¥400 billion over the next few years, and he’s aiming to take an 80 percent share. This means revenue for Bengo4.com’s cloud-signing service, which Uchida estimates at around ¥1.3 billion for the year ending March 2021, will have to double in growth for several years. The company doesn’t set mid-term goals but has targets on a yearly basis, the president said. “This is an extremely fast-growing business,” Uchida said.

News source: Japan Times
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