5 Reasons why banks urgently need Intelligent Document Processing
As big data becomes a fact of life for both consumers and banks, it introduces new avenues for creating revenue streams. Banking leaders recognise that the capability to extract and use data held within their business operations - and to automate document processes in their value chain, give tremendous competitive advantage.
However, in many organisations, there are barriers blocking those opportunities. Sometimes it’s budgetary constraints; other times, it’s simply a lack of support and/or understanding across the business.
As challenger banks continue to disrupt the financial services landscape, traditional banks have one great advantage – the enormous amounts of data they hold relating to their customer bases and segments. Loan applications alone generate mountains of data to satisfy back-end processes. But this data isn’t always in a form that can be accessed; nor is it verified for its integrity.
Being able to automatically interpret customer documents for intelligent insights unlocks valuable data for banks, which can then be fed into other areas of the business, or into applications. From there, financial institutions can develop products to meet the needs of retail, SME and commercial customers and dissolve their pain points; they can improve the customer experience and enable financial wellbeing conversations between consumers and the industry.
Data powers personalisation, opening up communication with customers about products at the right time, in a way that makes sense to individuals. Customer data becomes a source to shape strategy.
IDP uses a set of technologies - from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to optical character recognition (OCR) and natural language processing (NLP). These enable financial institutions to capture, classify, and extract data stored in documents, turning unstructured and semi-structured data into a structured format.
Intelligent automation technology can then be applied to the extracted data for enhanced validation and to automatically enter it into existing applications. Advanced analytics allow for reporting and insights in real time from multiple sources, so organisations can consume, analyse and execute on the insights, feeding into the bank’s value proposition.
With social distancing restrictions, lockdowns and a mass work-from-home movement in many markets, we’ve seen a revolution in consumer engagement.
It started with a mass flight to digital channels across both retail and commercial banking, accompanied by skyrocketing download rates for apps, especially in the early months of the pandemic.
“The banks are now reprioritising their digital transformation programs,” says Sandstone Technology CEO Michael Phillipou.
“18 months ago, a bank may have had a roadmap of three years of programs they were going to be addressing. Now they realise they need to accelerate that investment, reprioritise some of those programs, and bring in new priorities to ensure they’ve got market-leading digital value propositions.” “This speed and agility is something we’ve never seen before,” Phillipou says.
Overnight, digital solutions have been developed to meet customers’ need for safety and convenience, and cashless payments and international payments have became de rigueur.
“We also suddenly saw a demand for instant gratification,” says Phillipou. “Getting answers quickly and being able to communicate with your bank, either by self service or by a banker on the other side, are now expected as a matter of course.”
Note that in an environment of increasing cybersecurity breaches, new banking technology needs to be balanced with compliance, information security and risk management. “If payment systems were to go down, that would have a catastrophic effect economically and destroy trust in institutions,” Phillipou says.
However there is a huge opportunity for banks to improve their ability to meet regulatory compliance quickly and easily – through automated IDP products like Sandstone’s DiVA (Digital Intelligent Verification Assistant) technology.
DiVA gives customers proven and auditable regulatory compliance through an inbuilt rules engine with no code configuration required. And because DiVA is Software as a Service, it’s fast to implement. A bank could conceivably set up IDP across their business in a matter of weeks.
“This is what banking technology will look like across the board in the future,” Phillipou says.
“Cloud native, cloud based, API first, containerised, with microservices – all of these together enable fast deployment and fast realisation of benefits. Being consumption based, the product can be switched on and off quickly.”
The second: they need to do more with less, by reducing their cost-to-income ratio. And finally, number three is to comply with all regulations and avoid fines.
“With regards to the second point, this is absolutely an efficiency play,” Phillipou says. “The right digital lending solution will result in reduced time to process loans, and that’s the main use case our clients are using our capability for. Intelligent document processing is a key component of that.”
With intelligent automation, banks can start to issue loans out to consumers at a much greater speed than they could have otherwise. Personal information can be redacted, documents can be rotated and interpreted and indexed. And with more accuracy in the way they process information, and little or no re-keying of information, the error rate with clients is far lower.
As the process becomes more efficient for organisations, they can redeploy those back-office resources into other areas where they can gain a greater impact. It’s about cost savings for clients and a better consumer experience with fewer pain points.
Ultimately banks are working towards the idea of straight through processing (STP): totally electronic processing of financial transactions from the point of first 'deal' to final settlement, involving no manual intervention. The goal is to achieve better speed, accuracy, reliability and scalability.
As Phillipou says, “From our side, as a technology partner, we’re seeing far more requests for solutions to meet these needs today.”
There is no question that banks must be data driven if they want to provide better financial products and services to meet customers’ needs and expectations; and if they want to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
At the same time, they need to drive productivity and efficiencies across the business, while reducing operational risk. The time has come to adapt and do it quickly.
Article published June, 2021
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