In this video interview Peter Goossens, former Head of Operations for Buy Way Personal Finance, discusses how Buy Way cut point-of-sale contracting time from 20 days to 10 minutes with advanced electronic signatures.
Get an update on:
- The improvements Buy Way wanted to make with e-signatures.
- How e-signatures helped Buy Way reduce contracting from 20 days to 10 minutes.
- Why advanced e-signature increased closing rates from 50% to 99%.
- Top requirements to consider when selecting the right e-signature solution.
How Buy Way Personal Finance Digitized Point-of-Sale Agreements with OneSpan
“I'm Peter Goossens, I've been working with Buy Way Personal Finance for almost six years. I'm Head of Operations and in that function I’ve worked for three full years in the transition of the company, when it was growing terms of business, and in terms of digitization and the automating of processes.
In fact, the biggest challenge was to create a fully automated credit onboarding system, and that's also why at that time that we started to look at digital signing possibilities.”
What improvements did Buy Way want to make with e-signatures?
“The main driver was that we wanted to eliminate all paper from our flows. That was really the thing that we had to solve, because when we looked from an end-to-end perspective, it took about 20 days for a credit application to be approved in finance.
We have a very specific use case where the credit is onboarded in-store, and then it needs to go back to headquarters, get checks completed. and then release the funds. That took us about 20 days. In order to gain time and to drive down the throughput time we needed to digitalize.
The key component was the design work because in IT you can digitize everything, but the signing part is something very peculiar. At that time it was not so well known, so that's when we started to take a look at digital signing possibilities.”
How did e-signatures help Buy Way reduce contracting from 20 days to 10 minutes?
“The paper contract, especially in consumer credit, takes about 20 pages with a lot of legal stuff. A lot of signing to do, a lot of boxes to check, and a lot of legal matters not to forget.
In the end, all those paper documents came back to headquarters and 50% we had to send back because they were not compliant, because some pieces were missing.
We really needed a system where we could assure that everything that the client filled in at the time they were in-store was right from the start.
And also that the signing part, which is quite a complex thing to do - one can easily miss out a comma or a small number, and the contract is not valid - so that we needed to overcome.
Therefore we created a digital tunnel that the client is engaged in, then at the end they need to sign. So the signing part really was the key for us to be sure that the contract was compliant from the start and that saves us tremendous time, as well as less complaints, and less operational incidents.
It was really a big win for everybody including the store manager who didn't lose any time explaining over and over again where the customer had to sign.
It was easy to use for the customers and for us it was a tremendous gain of time.”
How did Buy Way select the right e-signature solution?
“The first hurdle to overcome was purely legal and compliance. What is the digital signing process? How does it work? It is valid? If you go to court, is it something that we can present or not?
So that was a lot of the discussions. At that time there was not really any case law present in Belgium, so we had to guess a little bit. Even the best lawyers in town could not predict how a judge would act if you presented a digitally signed contract.
So the first hurdle to overcome was with professors, with lawyers, and with internal legal people to assess the risk of applying a digital signing process. Then moreover, what are the risks involved? And are we ready to take those risks or not? It was kind of a leap of faith to be taking. I'm talking about 2017, it was not very well known at that time, so it was really quite innovative.
That was the first hurdle to overcome. Once you have decided, OK, we go forward with digital signing possibilities, you have to decide which one, and the advanced part or the qualified part. At that time qualified signing was quite difficult because you needed the little device to be able to generate a token but we didn't want any hardware in the process.
We needed to be as human as possible. So user experience was really key and therefore we needed to use something that everybody has.
That's a smartphone these days. Everybody has a smartphone, so that's easy to use. And therefore we opted for the advanced signing solution.
So the second part was really about how this looked for the client. How can we integrate it into the process? Is it easy to use?
I would say that the third component was about choosing the partner, and this is something very sensitive, very touchy. This is very, very, important in the process.
We needed a partner who was reliable, who had the proven track record, was also internationally known, but also specifically in the European context, was acquainted with GDPR and compliance. That was a very important component in the selection process as well.
And then lastly, what I would say was also very important is how to integrate this in your system. So the ease to integrate it into our IT backend. The APIs to be used, the modularity of the tools that should be integrated in different kinds of channels, and also the fact that the partner was able to integrate with local initiatives like in Belgium we have the ITSME solution.
I think it's such a fast moving market and technology that we had to invest in a partner that you are sure that you can work with in the long term and not just choose what's in front of your nose because next year it will be something completely different. So these are the four key components that we addressed in the selection process.”
How have e-signatures made a difference for Buy Way’s customers and staff?
“That's a huge difference. I mean, it’s another world because first we started in-store, but then afterwards we adopted it also for internal signatures in the company.
There we saw it ourselves because we experienced ourselves how easy these are to sign. It can be an NDA, it can be a contract, it can be just a procedure or something internal. You just take your smartphone, receive your email and you sign it. So the experience is really tremendous. Now I cannot even of think a world where it's not available anymore.
So often we make a joke if I receive some paperwork from other companies to sign, and I actually laugh with them and say ‘how is it possible that I have to sign on paper and send it back by the mail?’
In the four years of time that I've experienced digital signing, I would say it's so normal. I cannot think of the world without it anymore.”
How easy is the Advanced Electronic Signature signing process for Buy Way?
“Advanced signature only requires your phone. You receive an SMS, you sign, it's done. It's something that is easily accessible, everyone has a phone or nearly everyone of course.
Whereas the other solutions require extra steps. That was a nuisance, so you really want to have as simple as possible solution for this. Then we carefully laid it against the benefits and also the potential problems. If you if you go to court, you have to present the proof yourself.
In four years, I've never had to use it. So I think it's really adopted widespread in the markets right now and it is not a big issue anymore. So I'm really glad we took the decision.
Also, I have to point out that when we started this, it was before the pandemic. I cannot imagine now, but if we hadn't have done it, it would be extremely difficult for us to have a purely paper flow that originated in a store - and then all the stores went down. This would have just been impossible. So it was a question of survival at a certain point in time.
We’re really glad - we were just live in 2018, so one year before the pandemic started. It was a lifesaver.”
How did advanced e-signature help Buy Way increase closing rates from 50% to 99%?
“Before we lost up to 50% of the customers between when all the documents were drawn up and the actual signing of it because something went wrong in the process, because of a typo or whatever.
We used to have a checklist of more than 150 items that could go wrong on a paper contract. It's unbelievable. Then after the advanced signature, it went down to less than 1%. It was a big success.”
How were OneSpan able to meet Buy Way’s future needs such as KYC?
“We’ve had a very good relationship between OneSpan and Buy Way for three or four years now. I think what was very important in the beginning was that you have to build confidence in both parties and we needed a partner that was reliable.
OneSpan has the credentials but we also needed a partner that could think a little bit ahead of us, because I knew what I needed two years ago, but then I didn't know what I would need in one, two, three years ahead.
The market is so fast moving. When we started our digital onboarding program some of the technology we started to use is already replaced three years later.
So it was so crucial that we had a partner that could think ahead, and that also had a very modular approach. Recently a couple of weeks ago, we signed another deal with the OneSpan, for the KYC. So this is also important that from part every digital flow, the starting point is the KYC - Know Your Customer. That, I think, players like OneSpan can deliver.”
What is your advice for companies evaluating e-signature solutions?
“First of all, and this is very important, I would recommend to everyone to spend a lot of time in your customer journey design. It is absolutely key.
It's a digital world and a digital world is highly competitive and in a highly competitive world it's just not enough to drive down costs. You have to win those battles on user experience. That's absolutely key.
Spend a lot of time upfront before you start the project, before you start to develop the selection, in designing the process, getting all the bricks right from the customer’s point of view. Putting the customer at the center of the whole process. And that's really the first advice I would like to give to everyone. It took us a full year to do so, it was really time well spent.
Secondly, maybe less relevant now, but it was very relevant three to four years ago, is to involve all partners, all internal stakeholders from the beginning of the process.
For instance, the example I gave from the legal compliance hurdles. Usually a business designs a program, then it goes to IT, they do some hocus pocus, and then you have kind of a digital flow, and then they go to the legal team and say, well, "please approve". And then they say, "no, of course not, it's not valid."
So the question should not be - can I apply these digital solutions in that process? The question should be - how can I apply this digital signing process in there in that process?
And if you involve them early enough in the process, in the creative process, and in fact in designing the solution, then you will have a big chance of success. That's really crucial. That's not just with legal people and compliance people, but it's business, it's operations, it's IT, it's everybody from the start. That is to me one of the most important success factors, I would say.
And then thirdly, my third piece of advice, choose your technology wisely. Choose future-proof. You know what you need today, you don't know what you need tomorrow. So you need to partner up with somebody who is big enough, who is reliable enough to cover the markets, and who can also easily integrate with local solutions and think with you on the next level.
The fourth, the last component, I would say is the IT part. It has to be easy to integrate, easy to work with, whether it's a platform or you integrate the APIs if you did your own workflow.
It has to be very modular like bricks that you can fit in to do your process. Or else, you have a vendor lock-in that needs to be avoided, from our point of view at least, and therefore you also need a partner who can think with you on that level. So loosely coupled and future-proof. These are for me the four main takeaways.”