SC Ventures, a business unit within Standard Chartered, recently partnered with OneSpan to introduce electronic signature to the bank.
The e-signature tool has revolutionized the customer signing experience for mortgages and many other processes. It also provides employees with a significantly faster means to share documents with customers. Customers now access documents through a secure site and click to sign – thus removing paper and manual work.
As of October 2021, Standard Chartered is using e-signature in 21 countries.
Video Interview Transcript from Singapore FinTech Festival 2021! e-signatures accelerate digitization from paper to online
with Sameer Hajarnis, eSignature Practice Leader, One Span and Thorsten Neumann, SC Ventures
Moderated by Jason Ho, SC Ventures
Jason Ho: Morning, everyone. Welcome to another session today with SC Ventures, Standard Chartered Bank. I'm Jason Ho, your moderator today for a very relevant topic in light of the current COVID climate, where face-to-face interaction with clients are not so conducive anymore. We're talking about e-signatures. I'm joined here today by two experts in this field, Sameer Hajarnis, global eSignature Practice Lead from OneSpan and Thorsten, CTO, SC Ventures, who went through a very successful implementation with e-signatures in the bank this year. Good morning, gentlemen.
Thorsten Neumann: Hey, morning.
Sameer Hajarnis: Good morning.
Jason Ho: Thorsten, would you like to start off by sharing your experience with the implementation in the bank, how did it go, and how is it so far?
Thorsten Neumann: Good. So thanks for joining me Sameer and Jason for moderating us through the session, where we really want to share what we'd been able to do in the last 18 months, from the start of the pandemic, a time where we fortuitously at the same time looked at e-signatures, and where we got to today. A bit of context is that about 18 months ago, maybe a bit earlier, we started looking at e-signatures from a conceptual point of view. An organization the size of Standard Chartered Bank, enabled by SC Ventures, to see how could we bring e-signatures into the business, and what would that entail. So about 18 months ago we started experimenting with e-signatures - with certain use cases and certain experimentation with technologies. By the time that the pandemic really set in, we were somewhat lucky to be in a position to say - we've looked at this, we understand some of the constraints and some of the opportunities - and now felt there was really a need to push it all the way through to production.
Thorsten Neumann: The journey was one where we had both, the fortunate arrangement of having gotten to know OneSpan, and become familiar with their product and its capabilities, but also the support by SC Ventures, to help the group drive that forward into production. So the journey was an interesting one. It was definitely an accelerated push to production, it was a cloud-first project. It was a single tech stack, aiming at a global roll-out. What we felt as a small team in 2020, almost in a bit of a skunk-works effort, but with good support from the group, good collaboration, good exchanges, we were able to both bring the technology into production, but at the same time establish a governance framework and a controlled process, through which we will be onboarding those use cases. I think all around I can say looking back 18 months later, is that we've had quite a phenomenal success in this short period of time.
Jason Ho: Right. So based on your experience, what would you say the challenge is, that's slowing down the wider adoption across the bank? I see that you laid a foundation, and what would be your advice to someone who's starting on a similar journey?
Thorsten Neumann: If we talk about challenges here, I think it's more about the organizational transformation - getting to understand, how does e-signatures fit into a business process. It wouldn't be really the technology side. I would say, technology has been around for good over 10, maybe close to 15 years since the early days of experimenting with electronic signatures. But with the technology comes a change in the business. How does the business process adapt? And if I talk business process - not purely the aspect of sending out a document, that is fairly easy - it is aligning the front-to-back. What we now see is new questions arising. How do we verify these signatures, how do we assure ourselves that the counterparty that signed the document truly was authorized to sign the document?
Thorsten Neumann: It's a question of perhaps the entitlement in terms of perhaps, certain transactions or certain thresholds that the clients are allowed to sign for certain type of transactions, but not for other type of transactions. So those, I think, is where the bulk of the work lies. I think what we've been able to do is through a process, through an entitlement process, together with legal, together with fraud, together with compliance, is assess in which jurisdictions can eSign work? It is not a blanket global sign off for adoption in every country. Secondly, what is the legal enforceability of that signed document in that jurisdiction? And then thirdly, how do we then align the process so that we both have the assurance and a balanced approach on evaluating the risk of that document, to the value of the transaction, or the severity of that contractual obligation?
Thorsten Neumann: I think that's gotten us through the journey to where we are today. Looking forward to where we've come, I think that foundation that we've laid, as you mentioned it, Jason, is now scalable so that we can say we've successfully rolled out 40 departments, we're doing thousands of transactions every month through the e-signature platform, and now it's more of a question of further embedding that in more of these digitization efforts.
Jason Ho: Sameer, how's your experience with your other clients on that front, how are they doing?
Sameer Hajarnis: Very similar. But first of all let me just say, that what Thorsten and team have achieved at SCB, is phenomenal, in terms of the depth of the penetration across various lines of business, across countries, and geographies. The challenge that a bank like SCB, which operates globally, possesses, poses some unique kind of challenges to innovators. To achieve that type of penetration today, across that, is something which is really challenging. I see this kind of thing come up fairly consistently across banks and across the financial industry today, where people are looking at cross border kind of trades happening and transactions which are hosted in one place being signed somewhere else. Those are extremely challenging decisions that you need to kind of operate within and make sure that you work within the regulatory framework.
One thing which I usually find when I talk to our customers, and one thing which I've observed is where customers have had the foresight, or the vision, to solve the problem in the context of a shared service or a center of excellence, like the one which SCB put together here. I've seen that provide a platform for reducing, or lowering the barriers of entry for new businesses.
Sameer Hajarnis: I think Thorsten did allude to that, but just from my perspective, that is a combination of a framework. So there's a technology aspect, there's a people aspect, there's a process aspect. So on the technology side, that framework, which wraps together the core product services that vendors like us provide, whether it's the document composition; the notifications that you do to your customers; the verification of a signer identity which comes in to bring the trust in the transaction; the signing process itself; the modality of signing that you would want to use; and the storage of the content which gets signed later and is going in your system of record. All of this is encapsulated in this framework. I think Thorsten used the word tech stack.That tech stack that you build, once you build that out, then every line of business doesn't need to really reinvent the wheel. So if this stack is put together, it's making it much easier as people want to adopt this.
But it's not just about technology, it's also working with legal, working with folks, in terms of the governance that is required by geographies, the governance that's required by the business, and the regulations that apply to that particular business. What I mean by that is, mortgage might have different regulatory needs as compared to wealth management or investment advisory services, so bringing that framework together, which is why I look at it always as a people, process and product combination which comes together - that's really what drives.
Sameer Hajarnis: From a OneSpan perspective, what we provide is our OneSpan Sign Product, which is feature-rich and all exposed to our API, so that people can actually build these things, and cater to a wide variety of use cases. When you look at a bank of your size, you'll see use cases varying from different components, and there is B2C, there's B2B types of use cases, all requiring different modalities of authentication, verification that comes in. I think all of this is important to consider when you start looking at rolling out. There's also the whole adoption piece which kicks in. I've seen companies which have white label solutions, that have been able to drive adoption much better. When you look at this, a consumer interacting with the bank has trust and faith in the bank, with the bank itself. So SCB's brand needs to be at the forefront to drive that trust and drive that adoption in a comfort level. Especially with any new digitization workflows. Getting people comfortable to accept it and adopt it. Once you have that, you're going to see a hockey stick-like point of inflection. I've seen this with many customers. COVID may have expedited that as Thorsten was saying, in your case.
Thorsten Neumann: To add on that, I think what you've rightly highlighted is the challenge of making this an organizational-wide platform. So, as opposed to simply eight business unit or someone in a silo adopting an e-signature platform, even be it signing up to some SaaS provider or cloud provider, here we're really coming in and saying, "How do we make this an enterprise-wide platform?" That means scalable, that means centralized, that means a shared service. The only difference here, as opposed to many other general technology infrastructures being run by organizations internally, is that this is client facing. Now suddenly you are representing the bank, and as you mentioned, it is the branding, it is the white labeling, it is the consistency of the client experience, and being able to offer that as a service. I think this is something that, as Sameer rightly highlighted, is one of the biggest challenges, and I think we've been able to really navigate that and deliver that as a shared function.
Jason Ho: So Thorsten, now that we have laid a foundation and established a framework, what are some of the upcoming interesting initiatives that we have in the bank? Are there some new markets or some new technology we're looking at?
Thorsten Neumann: Let me take that question and start from the point of view of the successes, where we've seen the rollout today in 21 countries. We've got regulatory alignment and approval for the rollout into 28 countries, and of course, with us being in almost 60 countries, we're looking to add to that incrementally. It also goes to show that our successes have been in very well-understood use cases, for instance, mortgage repricing. It is a very common activity that you reprice your mortgage with latest interest rates as they've been trending downwards, and so, of course, in that volume of transactions, it made perfect sense to adopt e-signatures. Looking forward, what that means is that once a certain market had set precedents for a certain type of transaction, we can easily scale that into more markets, and so the whole business stands to benefit, not just one market.
Thorsten Neumann: I think secondly, looking at the experience, we've now understood better how we do the document verification and what type of attributes we look for. But if we think then, "What does that mean in the long term?" It would mean things such as mechanisms to share entitlement across organizations to sign electronically. What are those mechanisms of sharing that information between organizations, between corporates? I think another aspect that is very interesting is the long-term document retention. Today we are now signing documents electronically - previously they were all filed and kept in cabinets - but today the signature information is embedded inside that document. How do we store that in regulatory alignment, or in retention policy compliance for the long term and create those centralized repositories but not on a department-by-department basis, but perhaps at an organizational level? I think also additionally, and I'd like to ask Sameer next to speak a bit more about that, is things such as, how do we do the identification and verification of the individual beyond just the signature?
Thorsten Neumann: I think an important part playing into that is perhaps the identity of the individual. Who am I? And how do I attest that? Is that purely through a 2FA or is that perhaps an integration into a national identification system, perhaps extending on that to video experiences where I can actually see the client or the counterparty while signing the transaction. So I do think there's quite a rich ecosystem building around the core technology, which is, of course, the signing of the transaction. For that, we needed a robust technology, which OneSpan has been able to give us and we've been able to extend on using APIs, using integrations. But I do think that there's a whole ecosystem building out. Maybe I can pass that to Sameer.
Sameer Hajarnis: Absolutely. I think if you look at where we are, at least today, is more like an anywhere-economy. Consumers, whether they are retail customers, banking customers, whether they are in a kind of wealth or private banking, wealth-management type of customers, or even lending customers - all of these people are trying to close transactions from where they are, the comfort of their house. People work late hours, extended days. People could previously say, "I was walking downtown, and I could just walk to my branch and meet a banker." That's changed now when people are working from home. So, being able to engage face to face with the banker, with your advisor, has now become a rarity. If you look at it today, savings in most of developed countries is at an all-time high. So this is the right time to engage with these consumers and to give them advice of how they could put their money to good use in a way.
Sameer Hajarnis: When we when we look at this, and we start looking at in terms of innovation, I think there's a lot of things that's happening. There is signatures, I think Thorsten said this earlier, as well, this has been there for about 10, 15 years today. Getting remote documents signed was always there. You could send someone an email, they click to it, accept it, sign it, and it's done. But as we start evolving, I see two pressures on this market, which are driving innovation. One is largely around what's happening from the market itself, which is consumers wanting to have a more of a human as digital kind of experience as such. If you look at the spectrum of transactions which happen, there are certain transactions which are fairly simple, you can get a document, I sign it, and I work through it. Then there are on the other end of the spectrum, there are transactions like mortgage refinancing, or if I'm looking at some kind of loan restructuring that needs to be done, or some advisory services I need or some account maintenance.
Sameer Hajarnis: These transactions require some type of mediation, some type of assistance by an advisor, or a banker or a client-facing resource from these banks. Providing a technology platform which allows us to solve that, is really a key aspect of what's driving innovation. That' the same with us, so we've launched a product, which we call OneSpan Sign Virtual Room, which brings together a combination of audio and video with assisted screen sharing to bring this to the forefront. So think of it, that I'm trying to work on a mortgage refinance or a repricing a contract for my customers at home, but they have a question. They are doing a significant transaction with me, and they have a few questions before they can sign off. It's fairly simple. They message me, I get on a quick screen sharing through this interface of the actual document signing. It's actually quite sophisticated. I can authenticate the identity of the person coming into the room, whether it is using two-factor, whether it's using a government-issued ID, or any other modality of authentication, a biometric scan can be used. Once I get that, and I'm in the signing room, I can do screen sharing, I'm passing control. I could notarize the document. There's a lot more things that you can do.
Sameer Hajarnis: All of this is done with the underpinnings of evidence which is compiled, which is required from a regulatory and a compliance perspective for those requirements. So that's one side of the market that I'm seeing. And then the other side is what Thorsten was talking about. Is that in most countries, most geographies I see, there's fair amount of regulation and legislation out there, which talks about what kind of verification process needs to happen from a signing perspective. But as that's evolved, I see a lot of countries and especially advanced economies moving towards a more national ID or digital ID type of model. And so we see investments happening on that front and obviously that's going to be a big, big combination of what people are going to deliver in the future. I believe, Thorsten, you were saying you've done some work in that area as well?
Thorsten Neumann: Thanks for highlighting it. We are indeed very excited about that space, mostly because of course, if we look at our footprint as a big network, we are in markets where certain regulations or certain constraints still apply, these might be markets such as Pakistan, Indonesia, certain African markets. Of course, it is there that e-signatures still expect a higher level of endorsement or a higher certificate signing standard than just simply drawing a mark on a document. Of course, in Europe, you've got qualified signatures, which are X.509 certificate based, and that is a very mature ecosystem. But as we go into the emerging markets, the standards tend to still be very high. But the broader infrastructure is perhaps still emerging, I would say, still maturing.
Thorsten Neumann: Where we're excited is, of course, in markets, like Singapore, and of course India, where we're seeing government initiatives that say, "Well, we want to solve that problem. We have a national identification system, and we are now looking at how do we tie the two together?" What that means is that we're saying, how do we then link into those government identification systems and bring in that real second-factor authentication, but attested and evidenced by a government issued mechanism? In India that is working with Aadhaar. So you could think of the sign experience, to put it in practical terms, as somebody receiving a document, wanting to sign it and clicking on a link. Then being brought to the eSignature platform, however, at the same time, triggering an Aadhaar verification, which sends a message to the mobile phone number or any other personal identifiable details. It was through the government system that that cryptographically secured transaction between two parties that is effectively irrefutable.
Thorsten Neumann: In Singapore, we're working with the sign with Singpass, which is similar, so every citizen and every resident of Singapore has the Singpass application, and so there too, you'd be signing and get a push notification on your sign by Singpass and by confirming that as well as perhaps a biometric authentication on the mobile phone, we're closing that transaction. So Sameer, in the markets that we are looking to expand more into, especially those that are effectively more difficult to master, we have those options. I think partially we have those options because of your product and of course the ability of our integrations into those government ecosystems. That opens up opportunities in China, in Taiwan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and more of those markets, which I don't think every other product in the market can do. Actually, I would almost hazard to say not that many products in the market can do.
Jason Ho: That sounds very exciting, and it looks like we have a very interesting journey ahead of us. I think we have a question coming in from the viewers. Do you recommend a hybrid approach for certain processes where face-to-face interaction with the clients is still a preferred approach?
Thorsten Neumann: Yes, what helps align to this topic of accelerating this digitization from paper to online, is of course the fact that there are are still a lot of real-world interactions and I think Sameer has spoken to some of those online experiences where perhaps, there needs to be an assistance or an interactiveness, and I think that plays very much into hybrid. I do think that there's also some offline element, and that might be the equivalent of meeting your banker or your relationship manager, perhaps in a coffee shop, perhaps in the branch. It might be anywhere, but him being able, or her being able, to bring a tablet, being able to also facilitate the transaction and the signing in person. So if your client has a certain question, asks for clarification, goes through a process, but then being able to facilitate a hybrid type experience, I do think that is also still very much necessary and we can't rule that out, we can't simply say, "Because we now have digital, or call it electronic signing, that we no longer support any of the offline processes."
Jason Ho: Thank you.
Sameer Hajarnis: Just to add a point there. The one thing I also see is that there is a need to carry or provide portability across these channels, so it can be siloed into, either in a face-to-face or in a digital channel. It is floating, and the transaction could port in any of these channels that happen, whether it's hybrid, whether it's going pure directly face-to-face, or even do more. So having one solution which could port it across, or you can step and jump into different things, depending on the kind of questions you have, that's a really key consideration in my mind too, as you solve the problem for the future.
Jason Ho: Thank you. Another interesting questions is about signers' entitlement. In the corporate world, board resolutions can be very, very catered to those kind of mandates. Do you have a solution, like an integration with an identity management system? Sameer?
Sameer Hajarnis: Yes, absolutely. I think the key aspect, that I see with most enterprise deployments, is to not look at a product in a silo. Banks, like yourself, and others, your peers, have spent millions of dollars in creating identity and entitlement platforms, whether it's a system of storage of records or other kind of platform. Being able to plug into those and carry those things out, in terms of entitlements across, and apply them to any process downstream is critical. Our philosophy has to be, rather than reinventing this in each of our products, we actually plug into the bank's infrastructure and be able to carry that through in a seamless process, and so anything gets built within that is consistently applied, whether it's an e-signing transaction or anything going to just your document management platforms, all of them get applied with the same consistency.
Jason Ho: Alright, okay, thank you so much, Sameer, Thorsten, for your time today. I hope our viewers will have a better understanding of e-signature and its capabilities. With that, I shall leave you with a short video about a very, very interesting feature, upcoming feature from OneSpan. Thank you, everyone. Please enjoy the video and the rest of the festival.
Thorsten Neumann: Thank you, Jason, and Sameer.
Sameer Hajarnis: Thanks. Thank you.