NatWest Group’s Centre of Excellence for eSign transforms digital business processes with electronic signatures.
Electronic signature transactions processed annually
Become a sustainability leader by reducing carbon footprint
Improve productivity through greater use of automation and digital workflows
Comply with finance regulations for secure and compliant processes
Saved 9M sheets of paper, 960K gallons of water and 336K pounds of wood with paperless workflows
Used proactive engagement to increase YOY adoption by 520% and support 1.3M annual transactions
Reduced average contract cycle time by 90% for 2 million contracts
Gaurav Arora has always been passionate about numbers and technology. In particular, he enjoys looking at how technology can be used to transform the way that we work and live.
“The magic starts to happen when you look at the value technology can deliver,” says Arora, Product Owner, Electronic Signatures Centre of Excellence, NatWest Group. “It is about more than going digital; it is about making a difference for colleagues and customers alike.”
That’s why Arora was so excited to start working with the Electronic Signatures Centre of Excellence at NatWest Group. NatWest Group is one of the largest banking groups in the United Kingdom. Through its brands such as NatWest, Ulster Bank and Coutts, the group reaches 19 million individuals and businesses across the UK and Ireland. The Centre of Excellence supports all brands across the group by operating as a centralised hub to deliver electronic signatures and workflow capabilities.
Head of Business Automation Services, India, NatWest Group
“I love what we do at the Centre of Excellence because there’s such opportunity to affect processes throughout NatWest Group, which makes meaningful contribution to colleagues, customers and communities across the globe where we operate,” says Vineet Manuja, Head of Business Automation Services, India. “In particular, moving towards a paperless environment can have a huge effect on the bank. Digital services help us to reduce operational costs, accelerate business processes, simplify and improve customer experiences and meet sustainability goals. All of this aligns with our purpose-led, core principles at NatWest Group.”
As part of a regulated industry, banks deal with a variety of documents and paper trails. Many of these documents require secure signatures to comply with national and international regulations and standards for the finance industry. NatWest Group businesses can struggle to balance the need for compliant paperwork with the desire to achieve sustainability goals. By encouraging adoption of e-signatures across banks, the Centre of Excellence helps NatWest Group transform business practices and deliver excellent customer experiences.
Product Owner, Electronic Signatures Centre of Excellence, NatWest Group
Working with electronic signatures improves security, speed and sustainability for workflows. Security and compliance are extremely important in financial services. The e-signature capability helps meet compliance requirements with security features such as encryption, two-factor-authentication and the audit trail, which allows organisations to verify each signature.
“With fully digital document workflows, we can seal the PDF output to certify that files have not been changed,” adds Arora. “Between the audit trails and tamper-proof documents, the entire process provides a consistently secure environment which adds to the confidence of our electronic signatures with even less risk than wet ink signatures.”
Electronic signatures dramatically improve signing time. Rather than needing to mail a document, travel to an office or hunt down a scanner, signers just open an email and securely sign with a few clicks. This easy experience accelerates signing times, resulting in faster service and a better customer experience. NatWest has completed around two million contracts using its fully digital workflow including e-signatures, reducing the average cycle time from two weeks to less than 24 hours — a time savings of over 90%.
Another benefit of the digital document workflows is how it promotes the ambitious sustainability goals at NatWest Group. The group aims to become a climate change leader by working to make our operations climate positive by 2025. With electronic signatures supporting more paperless workflows, NatWest Group has already saved 9 million sheets of paper, 960k gallons of water and 336k pounds of wood.
The digital transformation became even more critical to NatWest during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to lockdowns and other restrictions, many employees started working from home, making it impossible to just drop off paperwork on a colleague’s desk. Customers were also affected, as they couldn’t stop by a bank to fill in forms. With electronic signatures, documents can be signed anywhere and we can easily track exactly where a document is — whether it’s been delivered, viewed or signed — for better visibility compared to most paper workflows.
“You never know what challenges may lie ahead. Today it’s COVID-19, but tomorrow it may be something else,” says Arora. “Businesses don’t want to return to the old manual processes. Electronic signatures provide benefits that will keep business moving in any situation.”
While electronic signatures are seeing steady adoption rates through NatWest Group, Manuja believes that the goal of the Centre of Excellence is not just to provide access to technologies but also to actively promote them across the bank.
“We knew that our banks could see very strong benefits by using electronic signatures across all parts of NatWest Group,” says Manuja. “We started actively keeping in touch to teams, forming relationships and nurturing champions in each group. We reviewed their existing processes and showed them how they could be improved. When teams learnt how they could improve security, speed and sustainability for customer and colleague journeys, they were eager to adopt electronic signatures.”
Managing Director of Commercial Banking, Ulster Bank
The proactive engagement helped increase year-over-year adoption by 520%. Today the e-signature capability serves 1.8 million customers — a 200% increase compared to the previous year — through more than 70 use cases and supports 1.3 million annual transactions, a huge jump from 180,000 transactions two years ago.
The Centre for Excellence also supports teams after adoption, working closely with stakeholders to configure signing journeys, set up integrations and promote a successful digital transformation. For example, deeds typically needed to be signed in person because they require a witness to confirm signature authenticity. But the business and Centre of Excellence brainstormed a solution to enable remote witnessing. With help from the experts in the Centre of Excellence, the use case went live in less than 14 days.
Head of Commercial Banking Digital Channels & Services at NatWest
At Ulster Bank, the Centre of Excellence helped set up eight active business journeys within the commercial banking space to streamline workflows and improve efficiencies. More than 210 active users, many of whom are frontline staff, worked with more than 7,000 customers to finalise 6,500 contracts quickly and efficiently using the digital workflow.
“Electronic signatures have transformed how we work, increasing agility and reducing time spent by our valuable frontline staff,” says Eddie Cullen, Managing Director of Commercial Banking at Ulster Bank. “Electronic signatures eliminated significant amounts of paper while increasing process efficiency, making lives simpler and more convenient for both colleagues and customers.”
For the NatWest Commercial Banking Digital Channels and Services team, APIs were used to integrate the electronic signature capability with 15 online applications and expressions of interest forms. These simpler and streamlined online forms helped more than 100,000 customers complete 97,000 contracts.
“Electronic signatures have redefined how we interact with customers digitally,” says Kim McNeil, Head of Commercial Banking Digital Channels & Services at NatWest. “Today our colleagues and customers can sign contracts from the comfort of their own homes, which increases process efficiency, reduces turnaround times and delights customers.”
Head of Business Automation Services, India, NatWest Group
The Centre of Excellence continues its work expanding electronic signatures and paperless workflows to teams across NatWest Group. By encouraging more integrations and automations, the Centre of Excellence hopes to help teams push efficiencies even further. The team is also developing a zero-touch enablement programme that aims to encourage further adoption through self-service processes in order to completely automate digital journeys.
“Electronic signatures play a critical role in our current push for paperless operations at NatWest Group,” says Manuja. “By removing barriers to enterprise, we are able to deliver effortless experiences to our colleagues and customers and simplify how they interact with NatWest Group.”