The Paperless Office

VREO adds Criterion in strategic move to push electronic transactions.

June 1, 2005

When most people hear the term electronic signature, their first thought is likely of a digitized version of your John Hancock—something that actually resembles handwriting.

But since federal legislation passed five years ago granting electronic signatures the same legal status as handwritten signatures, no one can agree on what an e-signature should be or how it should look. As a result, these signatures have taken the disparate forms on digital documents of time stamps, encryption, and complicated algorithms.

VREO Software Inc. hopes to change that, thanks to a just-completed acquisition of Criterion Corp., maker of the REDtablet, a customized version of the Tablet PC that is loaded with specialized transaction, document, and lead-management applications. The merged company can now offer a complete system of computer hardware, software, Web-based document storage, and support services that allow practitioners to conduct paperless transactions. The system can be integrated into existing Web-based transaction management solutions to provide a secure means for sharing contracts and other documents. Even after documents are created, signed, and delivered to a secure “vault” on the company’s server, the document originator retains password-protected control to view or revise these documents.

Brian Boero, recently hired CEO of VREO, believes the Tablet PC’s ability to electronically capture a signature in the signer’s own hand is a key advantage over other approaches to electronic signatures. Using an electronic stylus, users sign a digital document by writing on the Tablet’s PC touch-sensitive screen. With REDtablet’s software, that signature is time stamped, embedded, and permanently saved as part of the document file. In addition to incorporating the Tablet PC’s handwriting recognition, REDtablet provides Wi-Fi networking for mobile e-mail and is compatible with Windows XP applications.

By equipping salespeople with the means to close deals at the point of contact with consumers, then securely manage the document flow and access, Boero believes VREO is well-positioned to help foster the transition to electronic transactions. “I expect the Tablet PC will be as common a business tool in real estate as the cell phone and fax within the next three to five years.”

VREO’s immediate challenge is to start spreading the word to convince more real estate professionals that it’s time to can get on board with electronic transactions.

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