Remote Online Notarization (RON) has become a buzzword within the Notary community, and for good reasons. This new method allows you to notarize documents online, anywhere, any time, and in most cases, from any device. Whether it is about which RON platform to use, which states allow RON, or what is holding Notaries back from doing Remote Online Notarizations, we were curious to know.
So, we recently conducted a 2021 Notary Survey which revealed some interesting trends about the Notary community and their thoughts. We surveyed Notaries across the US to find out who they are, what they do, how they do it, and what their thoughts were on remote online notarization as a method of getting documents notarized.
Being an early adopter of any innovative technology can be tough, and there are always growing pains when learning a new system.
We found that Notary respondents could be broken into three major groups – Self Employed (36%), working for a Signing Agency (13%), or working in-house for an organization or company (48%).
Overall, 55% of Notaries that responded had 2 or more years of experience as a Notary.
Most responses came from Texas, Florida, and to our surprise, California (has not approved RON).
We also found that notaries were getting new customers from a variety of methods, including but not limited to Google and Facebook (20%), Online Directories (8%), Word of Mouth (20%), friends and family (22%) , from title companies (16%), and referrals (9%) .
Let us look at each group and see what the main insights and trends were.
Whether performing offline or RON notarizations – notaries are struggling to make money. This was mentioned throughout with reasons ranging from the time it takes to perform offline notarizations, the cost imposed by the state that they can charge, the margin taken by middleman such as notarize.com or the cost of RON software (vs what they can charge).
We found most common docs notarized by self-employed notaries were Finance (67%), Real Estate (58%), Legal (51%) and Medical (31%).
We found that 63% of Self-Employed Notaries who answered the survey were RON certified.
There is a lack of customer demand for RON sessions despite a lot of enthusiasm towards RON from notaries and agreement in many comments that RON is the future.
Ease of use, price, and training are key factors notaries focus on when looking at the RON software they use now or want to use in the future.
There were two main factors that stood out to us as to why self-employed notaries were not using RON.
Lack of customer demand. With only 24% saying they were getting enough business; many self-employed notaries were wanting more work. It is important to note that when a Notary did get business it was from individuals (62%), title companies (42%) or private businesses (36%).
How little money was able to be made. Notaries felt they struggled to make money as they were limited to what they can charge based on their state, margins were low due to middlemen (marketplace providers) taking a cut and the general cost to use any given RON software. 38% of respondents were doing less than 10 notarizations per month.
Other issues included clients or notary not being tech savvy, technical issues during the RON sessions, lenders not being on-board with RON, and not enough being spent on promoting their business.
The results showed some enthusiasm towards RON with benefits being listed as:
- Expanding geography reach – able to notarize documents across a wider area.
- Better ID Check / Storage assisting in compliance.
- Easy to use for the notary and the client.
It was also clear that one of the most important things for RON adoption is that the platform needs to be affordable, have training readily available, and be easy to use for both the Notary and the client.
Work for an organization or company (in-house notary)
In-house notaries, the largest group of respondents, indicated that 74% they were satisfied with their volume of work, with half of the notaries working at law firms or other legal related industries, and the other half working in a wide range of industries and had a diverse range of job titles.
Types of documents notarized were spread across many industries and were not focused on lending or real estate transactions. Most of the business was received from title companies, referrals from businesses.
When we asked what their document notarization volumes were, we found that 52% of these notaries, did more than 50 notarizations per month.
58% of in-house notaries were RON certified.
The needs and challenges of an in-house notary were vastly different than self-employed notaries such as the need to not record sessions as they were getting co-workers signatures and the need for their own company to approve them using RON.
Some of the answers revealed that in-house notaries who performed notarization for their company were also performing and charging for private and/or personal notarizations for co-workers.
There were two main frustrations with RON.
Technology. Setting up and preparing documents for RON is time consuming and laborious. The entire process is not always smooth. RON platform or software is not user friendly and doesn’t always work correctly when trying to digitally sign.
Interacting with their customers. The service is not always smooth. Lack of knowledge on the Notary or client-side.
Many of the barriers as to why in-house notaries were not using RON were based on demand, cost of the platform, training, and companies approving (or not approving) RON within the company.
It is not all negative. In-house notaries stated that some of the key benefits of RON are that it costs less than travelling to clients in person and having the ability to notarize documents in other geographies.
Some of the other benefits of RON included having less paperwork involved, more robust identity checking, repeatable processes, safety when not meeting in person, potential for more customers, and the documents being stored digitally.
Overall, in-house notaries are active in the RON space, being a part of the earliest adopters of RON technology.
Signing agencies, as expected, are much more advanced with the RON work they are doing with a 92% of respondents being RON qualified and having a larger number of RON sessions (average of 11 RON sessions) being completed each month.
Unlike self-employed notaries who worked with individual customers (62%) the signing agencies dealt with B2B with mortgage lenders, title companies and other private businesses.
Signing agencies generate most of their business from referrals and word of mouth and 60% happy with the volume of work they have currently. The actual volume of notarizations per month was only slightly higher than individual notaries with most signing agencies completing 4 – 49 notarizations a month (63.69%). The difference being in how much is charged per notarization. There were 10 signing agencies completing over 500 per month and 3 agencies completing over 1,000 per month.
Compared to self-employed notaries, Signing Agencies completed far less finance and loan documentation (29.85%) focusing more on real estate (29.85%), legal (39.80%), and medical (32.94%) documents.
Key frustrations for a signing agency were:
- Finding new customers (35%).
- Not making enough money (32%).
- Storage of documents (29%).
Other frustrations were travelling for in-person notarizations, using technology and software, interacting with customers, keeping up with regulations and law changes, and working on paperwork & processes.
Some Signing Agencies experienced issues with expensive RON costs and the need to protect their notary from any risks associated with notarizing documents online.
About 1 out of 6 Notarizations were completed using RON technology, so we were interested in what benefits signing agencies saw when using it.
The three main benefits were:
- Less paperwork (83%).
- More potential customers (82%).
- Documents stored digitally (89%).
Some of the other perceived benefits included meetings being faster than in-person, cheaper costs than meeting in-person, not having to travel, and more robust identity checking.
Signing agencies mentioned that ease of use of the RON software for both the notary and signer was a key factor to liking RON software.
What does this all mean.
Overall, we found that the Notary industry was still in the initial stages of adopting RON technology with many learning about what notarizing documents online looks like for them. Although learning new technology can be a barrier, Mike Eyal, CTO from Secured Signing said that this “is an area our team are constantly working on improving – with a new RON certification process just launched for notaries, regular free group training sessions and work being done to help educate the customer on how the process works and what they need to do.”
Despite the issues identified in our Notary survey, many notaries remain positive and upbeat about the future of RON, and with many states approving this method for the notarization of documents, only time will tell how many notaries will add RON to their set of notary skills.
About the surveyor
Secured Signing provides a one stop digital signature service that delivers a full range of form completion, eSigning, and Remote Online Notarization capabilities. Using advanced personalized X509 PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) Digital Signature technology, it is more secure than a plain electronic signature.
Secured Signing enables its users to use any device to capture their graphical signature, fill-in, sign, seal and verify documents anywhere, anytime. The solution streamlines business processes, cuts back on expenses, expedites delivery cycles, improves staff efficiency, and enhances customer service in a green environment.
To learn more about Secured Signing visit www.securedsigning.com