Pursuing paperless efficiency

October 2013 Integrated Solutions, Financial (Industry)

Within an increasingly digitised world, what becomes of the paper-driven systems with which we are all familiar – and which still form an integral part of many business processes? That’s a question to which Bytes System Integration has applied its collective mind; the result is a set of solutions that can take the paper out of the process and deliver the benefits of improved performance, accuracy and convenience.

That’s according to Nick Perkins, divisional director of Bytes System Integration Identity Management. “There’s little doubt today that digitising paper-driven processes saves time, delivers far better searchability and significantly expedites any associated business process,” he says. “Yet, in many instances, paper processes persist, often because of a perceived need for security.”

Nick Perkins, divisional director of Bytes System Integration Identity Management.
Nick Perkins, divisional director of Bytes System Integration Identity Management.

In the financial services industry, the exchange of documentation which requires signatures is one area where paper processes are still favoured. That’s set to change, however, with the availability of solutions that provide for the conveyance of electronic documents while still retaining the ability for a personal mark to be appended, acknowledging receipt.

Perkins points to a paper published at www.banktech.com, titled ‘Electronic Signature Challenges and Business Justification’, which notes that despite the benefits of paperless systems, banks remain some of the lowest adopters of e-signatures. “Internationally, this is to some extent owing to the necessity for changes in law to permit electronic signatures. This process is taking place, however, which is providing the groundwork for financial institutions to take advantage of technological advancements.”

With the enabling environment taken care of – and a ready precedent available from industries including logistics – Perkins says Bytes SI has the enabling technology ready to go. “For example, the VPSign Vpad range of paperless printers are tablet-styled devices which present full-sized documents together with an electronic pen.”

Customers can view and sign documents, such as those for loans or other financial agreements. Security is very much the name of the game, says Perkins: “The electronically stored documents are tamper-proof, while the signature is stored with biometric identifiers for authentication purposes.

Documents for signing are delivered electronically to the VPad, which is configured as a standard printing device attached to the customer service agent’s computer. Documents can be routed from a central server, or generated locally from any application able to print.

The paperless printer is easily introduced into existing infrastructure, notes Perkins, effectively taking the place of a traditional printer. “This eases change management and also preserves existing investments while introducing paperless technology.”

Once the document is signed, the VPad calculates a hash code and seals it using Public Key Infrastructure technology. The document is then uploaded and archived.

It’s not only documents that require signing where paperless technology is being brought to bear in the financial services industry. Perkins notes that as part of many processes, it is necessary to capture copies of identity and other documents. “This was once done using photocopiers – another paper process which is expensive, clumsy and error-prone,” he notes.

Scanners are a far better bet, creating an accurate digital representation which can be instantly archived and easily retrieved. Perkins says scanner technology has come a long way, as evidenced by the Digital Document Imaging Solution portable scanner. Small, lightweight (>500 grams) and simple to use, the device can capture a full A4 page in two seconds and is also capable of scanning 3D objects. The Digital Document Imaging Solution incorporates a 5-megapixel camera too, so financial institutions can take photos of their customers where necessary.

“When used in combination, paperless printers and scanners can substantially speed up several essential business processes for banks and other financial services providers, with no compromise in security. Indeed, in most instances, the security provided by electronic document exchange is better than that associated with paper documents, which can get misplaced, lost or damaged,” says Perkins.

With this technology, he says, it is faster and easier for banks to open accounts, provide home and car loans, while also easier to store and retrieve records. “Those organisations which are quick to adopt paperless technology will gain a competitive edge thanks to the many advantages it offers,” he concludes.

For more information, contact Lise West, Bytes Systems Integration, +27 (0)11 205 7000, lise.west@bytes.co.za

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