Crafting paperless customer journeys.
NatWest Group’s Center of Excellence for eSign transforms digital business processes with electronic signatures.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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 Center 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 Center 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 Center of Excellence supports all brands across the group by operating as a centralized hub to deliver electronic signatures and workflow capabilities.
“Digital services help us 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.”
Platform Lead - RPA, ECM and eSign in Business Automation Service, NatWest Group
“I love what we do at the Center of Excellence because there’s such opportunity to affect processes throughout NatWest Group, which makes meaningful contributions to colleagues, customers, and communities across the globe where we operate,” says Vinita Nair, Platform Lead - RPA, ECM and eSign in Business Automation Service, NatWest Group. “In particular, moving towards a paperless environment can have a huge effect on the bank. Digital services help us 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 Center of Excellence helps NatWest Group transform business practices and deliver excellent customer experiences.
“Businesses don’t want to return to the old manual processes. Electronic signatures provide benefits that will keep business moving in any situation.”
Product Owner, Electronic Signatures Center of Excellence, NatWest Group
Promoting NatWest Group goals through electronic signatures
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 organizations 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 out 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.”
Promoting adoption through the Center of Excellence
While electronic signatures are seeing steady adoption rates through NatWest Group, Nair believes that the goal of the Center 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 Nair. “We started actively reaching out 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 learned how they could improve security, speed, and sustainability for customer and colleague journeys, they were eager to adopt electronic signatures.”
“Electronic signatures have transformed how we work, increasing agility and reducing time spent by our valuable frontline staff. Electronic signatures eliminated significant amounts of paper while increasing process efficiency, making lives simpler and more convenient for both colleagues and customers.”
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 Center 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 Center of Excellence brainstormed a solution to enable remote witnessing. With help from the experts in the Center of Excellence, the use case went live in less than 14 days.
“Electronic signatures have redefined how we interact with customers digitally. 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 Commercial Banking Digital Channels & Services at NatWest
At Ulster Bank, the Center 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 finalize 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.”
“Electronic signatures play a critical role in our current push for paperless operations at NatWest Group. 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.”
Platform Lead - RPA, ECM and eSign in Business Automation Service, NatWest Group
Looking to the future of electronic signatures
The Center of Excellence continues its work expanding electronic signatures and paperless workflows to teams across NatWest Group. By encouraging more integrations and automations, the Center of Excellence hopes to help teams push efficiencies even further. The team is also developing a zero-touch enablement program 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 Nair. “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.”
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