COVID-19 accelerated trends toward remote banking and digitalisation, forcing financial institutions to embrace new technologies and processes to keep their businesses functional despite social distancing restrictions.
Now, with more and more people relying on digital solutions for interactions and transactions, the industry is turning to the next set of challenges, actively seeking to reimagine customer journeys to not only differentiate themselves from competitors, but also capture new generations of tech-savvy customers.
In a new paper, cybersecurity technology firm OneSpan explores how e-signatures, digital identity verification and authentication technologies can unlock new opportunities for financial institutions, highlighting what it believes are the top eight financial processes poised for digital transformation.
1. Remote account opening and account maintenance
According to the paper, remote bank account opening has become a necessity for banks and financial institutions must offer remote onboarding that doesn’t require a customer to physically go into a branch to complete the process.
This trend is evidenced by the positive response financial institutions like Citi saw during the pandemic where new and existing corporate clients of the Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) business opened more than 1,000 accounts online in March 2020 – a 300% increase over the previous year, the paper notes.
For OneSpan, the need to establish a digital onboarding solution is now paramount, and e-signatures and digital identity solutions will be critical for banks to implement such solutions.
Moreover, the report adds that financial institutions should look into any other related paper-based, in-person interactions that requires a signature and identity verification.
These processes can be adapted to online channels using e-forms, e-signatures, as well as digital identity tools, the report says.
In the lending space, e-signatures, e-forms, and digital processes can simplify and accelerate loan applications and finance contracts.
Not only that, the fact that all transactions are kept completely digital and that workflow rules are applied means that the risks associated with documents errors, such as missing signatures and data, are eliminated.
OneSpan advises firms to also put a focus on the mobile channels considering the momentum that mobile-first lending has gained over the past few years.
Against this backdrop, the firm recommends the use of two technologies: mobile e-signatures with digital audit trails, and mobile app shielding to protect it from cyberattacks.
3. Residential mortgage
Although digitising the mortgage process has been a hot topic in the industry for the past decade, development has been slow.
But the pandemic has created renewed urgency to drive innovation, regulations, and adoption faster.
Moving forward, OneSpan expects to see greater adoption of the digital mortgage process, from applications to closings and remote online notarisation, building on the rise in usage of internet mortgages during COVID-19.
US Bancorp handled 80% of mortgage applications online from March to May 2020 in the US, reported American Banker in July 2020, showcasing how big the trend has become since the beginning of the pandemic.
4. Life insurance
In the life insurance space, COVID-19 has accelerated the need to digitise the paper-dependent industry.
This has fueled the adoption of e-signatures, which firms view as an immediate enabler for digital transactions that can be deployed instantly to agents as a standalone solution, or integrated with an agent portal, e-app, or core system.
According to the paper, these solutions are now being applied extensively in new business applications, but also in areas including e-disclosure delivery, agent licensing and appointment, e-policy delivery, and beneficiary changes.
5. Wealth management
In wealth management and private banking, rapid adoption of digital tools has allowed financial advisors to maintain relationships with their clients and deliver personalised service from home.
Moving forward, wealth management businesses must optimise their new remote processes and create a convenient, intuitive customer experience.
This should include using embracing e-signatures and digital identity verification to meet the services expectations of both new and existing clients and improve customer acquisition and retention, OneSpan says.
6. Corporate banking and treasury management
Commercial banking processes can be very complex, and oftentimes involve ad hoc, customised agreements and contracts that require signature authorisations and approvals for processes.
In the new normal, speed and convenience can make the difference for banks, allowing businesses to increase customer loyalty and retention.
Hence, financial institutions should not only focus on streamlining processes by leveraging technologies such as e-signatures, but also focus on modernising the corporate client experience by, for example, introducing mobile capabilities such as mobile apps, mobile authentication, and mobile app shielding, OneSpan says.
7. Auto finance and leasing
Increased competition, the shift to zero-emission vehicles, depressed margins, the pandemic and reduced sales have put pressure on the auto industry, subsequently affecting financial institutions and lenders involved in auto and equipment finance and leasing.
This environment has forced banks to look at ways to leverage technology to reduce costs and improve operating margins, turning their sights to technologies such as e-signatures and digital identity verification methods to help minimise contact during sales processes and reduce costly manual steps.
For OneSpan, three technologies in particular are worth being considered by auto and asset finance companies: automated document verification, where a photo of a document like a passport, a driver’s license or a national identity (ID) card is analysed by software to determine its authenticity; facial comparison with liveness detection, where a selfie of a customer is compared with the image on their passport or ID card, which can then be used for remote financing applications; and e-signatures, which can be utilised to capture the intent of the signer to be bound by the terms and conditions in a contract.
8. Employee processes
Finally, the eighth and last financial process that should be digitised, according to OneSpan, is employee processes.
With the risk of COVID-19 still lingering, the top priority for financial institutions remains to this day to maintain operations in a way that is safe for employees.
And one of the easiest way for them to protect both their employees returning to the office and those still working from home is by removing the need to manually handle paper, digitising paperwork and introducing e-signatures, the paper concludes.
The Beyond Business Continuity: The New Normal in Remote Banking and Insurance whitepaper by OneSpan can be accessed here.