Employees: 498 (as of end of March 2019)
Capital: ¥31 billion
that required two to three weeks now finished in as little as one hour
Increase the speed with which the bank processes loan documents
Digitise the loan document workflow
Integrate loan-processing workflow with existing customer relationship management system
Contract work that required two to three weeks now finished in as little as one hour
Reduced workload and cost
Eliminates the need for registered seals, seal registration certificates and stamp taxes
Suitable for addressing the large increase in number of contracts
Deputy General Manager and Section Head of Business Planning Section, Loan Business Department, Sony Bank
Sony Bank Incorporated, established in 2001, is an Internet-only bank that is active in new initiatives. It provides a wealth of products and services, such as non-face-to-face mortgage loans, foreign currency deposits, investment trusts, card loans and foreign exchange margin trading (FX), based on the concept of an "asset management bank for individuals." The bank has released financial products that make use of the latest technology and unique ideas, such as "Sony Bank WALLET," a cash card with Visa debit service for 11 currencies and "Sony Bank GATE," an investment-type crowdfunding service that supports venture companies.
One of Sony Bank's main products is mortgage loans and in recent years the effects of negative interest rate policies have intensified competition among banks to cut interest rates. Under such conditions in which it is difficult to increase profits, increasing the speed of contract procedures and examinations has made the improvement of business productivity a major issue. Therefore, Sony Bank used in-house AI to conduct a tentative examination of mortgage loans. By letting this AI learn the accumulated data, it became possible to perform examinations in a short time and with a precision nearly equal to the judgement of examiners.
Next, in order to further shorten the time required to receive a loan, they focused on the contract procedures that are performed after these examinations are complete. We spoke with Koji Shigeta, Deputy General Manager and Section Head of Business Planning Section, Loan Business Department.
"Customers who completed the examination were mailed paper contract documents, to which they were asked to affix their registered seal and also attach a seal registration certificate," explained Mr Shigeta. "Although sufficient time was provided for the documents to be sent out and then returned to our bank, if a seal was unclear or if any required information was omitted, we would send the documents out again and therefore it would take two to three weeks. This was troublesome for the customer and an inefficient way for us to conduct our business. In order to improve this situation, we decided to review our work flow of exchanging paper documents from the ground up and began to consider the transition to electronic documents."
Senior Advisor of Business Planning Section, Loan Business Department, Sony Bank
After considering multiple solutions, the bank decided to introduce Adobe Acrobat Sign, which would completely digitise the workflow, from sending documents to obtaining signatures and storing the created contract data. Yosuke Shimizu, Senior Advisor of Business Planning Section, Loan Business Department, pointed out the key factors that were considered when making this selection.
"One factor was that while it offered strong security mechanisms for use by a bank, it was also easy for us and our customers to operate," said Mr Shimizu. "We felt that Adobe Acrobat Sign offered the best balance. Another is the high degree of integration that can be achieved with our customer management system, Salesforce. It's exciting to be able to add the Adobe Acrobat Sign signature workflow to the Salesforce UI and use it as an extension of our existing customer management work without having to switch screens."
An electronic signature is as effective as a registered seal, but the bank must be able to prove that the customer himself/herself signed the contract. As a result of repeated discussions and co-ordination in the Risk Department and related departments, it was determined that the trail recorded in Acrobat Sign and the use of two-step verification would provide adequate security.
Section Head of Advisor Section 1, Loan Business Department, Sony Bank
With the start of an "electronic contract service," a mortgage loan for which the contract procedure is completed on a website, the delivery of paper documents has been completely eliminated. Although a copy of the contract was mailed after the contract was concluded, with the introduction of this solution the contract is now attached as PDF data to an email notification that is sent automatically after the contract is complete.
"By eliminating the need for round-trip mail and the need for customers to prepare a seal registration certificate, the time required to conclude a contract, which was previously two to three weeks, has been reduced to about one hour," explained Ayako Yamamoto, Section Head of Advisor Section 1, Loan Business Department. "We no longer have to re-create the contract because a registered seal is unclear."
"Notification is sent to the system when the customer has signed and reminders are automatically sent to customers who have not completed the procedures, which frees us from the cumbersome progress management tasks that we had to do by phone and email every day," said Ikumi Yamada, Senior Advisor of Advisor Section 1, Loan Business Department.
Both advisors added that they were initially worried that the introduction of Acrobat Sign would lead to dramatic changes in their business process that would make things more complicated due to the elimination of paper, but that they were later surprised by how much it actually simplified their work. It is also simple and easy to understand for the customer and the two said that they have often received favourable comments from customers who did not think that mortgage loan contracts could be completed so smoothly.
Senior Advisor of Advisor Section 1, Loan Business Department, Sony Bank
"Only a short time has passed since we started this service and we have yet to conduct a full-scale verification, but in terms of various efficiencies, we feel that the expected cost reduction of about 10% has been achieved," explained Mr Shigeta.
In addition to the reduction in operating costs, the big benefit for the bank has been an increase in the number of mortgage loans. Mr Shimizu believes that this can be attributed to the shortening of the period from the submission of an application to the conclusion of a contract, as well as the elimination of the cost for the stamps that are attached to contract documents and the cost of issuing a seal registration certificate.
Sony Bank, which has experienced the benefits of operational efficiency from Acrobat Sign, intends to consider using an electronic contract service in the future even when it makes changes to its mortgage contracts. Mr Shigeta described what he expects from Acrobat Sign.
"Before we introduced this solution, there was not a little psychological resistance to using computerisation to eliminate the process of the 'exchange of paper documents.' However, now that this hurdle has been overcome, all staff members have realised that the contract process has been greatly simplified. This benefit has not only been felt by us, but also by our customers and we hope that it will be widely applicable in the future to other banking businesses that require paperwork."
Established in 2001 as an "asset management bank for individuals." Creates financial services that go beyond traditional frameworks, such as "MONEYKit", a service site based on the concept of a "money toolbox to support your lifestyle," "mortgage loans" that can be completed - from application to contract - on the Internet, "Sony Bank WALLET," a multi-currency debit service for managing 11 currencies with a single card and "Sony Bank GATE", an investment-type crowdfunding service that connects ambitious companies and individuals.
* This information is current as of September 2019.