Four Years Of Benefits From Paperless Signature Technology

International financial peers demonstrate the value of a digitalized signature system for US-based cooperatives.

 

By Wacom

 

This following case study highlights a technology implementation that is an on-going success story for The Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks (CECA) and its member institutions. Electronic signature solutions are currently utilized by financial institutions, government agencies, telecom, and retail businesses around the world. This technology is affordable, easy to use, and can provide benefits of cost reduction and streamlined business processes for credit unions and their members.

Four years ago, CECA identified a burden that was impacting both end users and internal business processes and costs. A wide range of transactional documents submitted to and utilized by Spanish financial institutions required the capture and verification of physical “wet ink” signatures. Managing these documents resulted in high direct costs from purchasing, printing, and archiving reams of paper along with indirect costs generated by the back-office business processes associated with storing, accessing, and managing mountains of paper documents. CECA decided that the solution to this burden was the implementation of a Digitalized Signature System (DSS) within its member institutions. When CECA first started this project, they had three very clear objectives in mind:

  1. Measurable cost reduction associated with managing documents generated by banking transactions.
  2. Conversion from wet ink signature capture to digital signature capture as a standard practice for transactional documents.
  3. Improved convenience and user experience for institutions and end users, gained through fraud protection and ease of access to individual records.

To facilitate these goals, CECA partnered with an electronic signature tablets provider and completed its initial pilot installation of this solution in 2009. After successful pilot deployment, installation scaled to the point where the digital signature technology was heavily adopted throughout CECA’s Spanish financial institutions. Currently there are nearly 29,000 of Wacom’s own digital signature tablets installed in more than 18,000 locations across the country. Approximately 95% of all documents used in these institutions’ day-to-day business are now signed on electronic signature pads rather than via traditional wet ink signature.

CECA AND CECA BANK

  • CECA (la Confederación Española Cajas de Ahorros) is the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks and integrated credit institutions.
  • CECA provides a forum for strategic thinking and leadership for participating savings banks and other associated entities. CECA defends and represents the interests of its affiliates and disseminates advice and guidance on competitive products and services that promote their social mission.
  • CECA provides centralized cooperative guidance services among its member institutions for projects that involve: regulatory compliance, investment, securities and deposit services, Treasury services, IT and payment services, consultancy, advice, and training services.

Project Benefits

An assessment of the DSS project highlights several benefits of adopting electronic handwritten signature technology. A participating institution with approximately 1200 branches is able to save more than 110 million paper sheets per year. This equates to direct cost savings of more than $1.8 million annually from reduction in paper and associated printing/consumables costs. An additional savings of approximately $2.6 million annually is generated through process improvement and back-office efficiencies gained by migrating all of the paper-based transactions to an electronic format. The business process improvement savings are associated with ease of access to transactional data for end users and CECA employees via software instead of the legacy requirement for accessing a physical document or a copy of it. Records can now be accessed more quickly, throughout multiple locations, and storage is done electronically instead of in boxes or rooms full of paper documents.

CECA specifically selected an electronic handwritten signature capture solution that has the capability to collect and store both a digital, graphic representation of a signature and associated biometric data unique to the person signing. The signature tablets used were able to register data including pen-tip pressure, pen-tip speed, and acceleration of the pen during the signing process.

Pen-based signature features are then combined with additional information from the computer used during signing in order to generate a unique collection of data about where and when the electronic handwritten signatures were captured. This combination of information creates a specific set of data about each signature that is virtually as unique as a fingerprint.

This biometric data is used to improve security and fraud prevention to the benefit of financial institutions and their end users. Forensic experts and forensics software can analyze this data and confirm the authenticity of a signature to a standard validated for legal disputes. Within the last four years CECA had to face thirty-eight incidents regarding potential security violations, and the bulk of these were solved out of court in large part because of the defensibility of signature authenticity provided by this biometric and forensic information. CECA has faced only one fraud case during the DSS implementation and in this case the biometric validation was able support and protect the fraud victim.

Digital handwritten signature technology can further augment this forensics analysis through the following tools:

  • Video of the signature as it was done
  • Algorithms to match electronic and traditional signatures
  • An examination of differences in parameters such as pressure, acceleration, speed, etc.

This unique combination of analytic resources is only available for those signatures captured using a solution from Wacom.

CECA itself has utilized an independent third-party security expert to audit and certify the forensics application, assuring the integrity of the data analytics to the benefit of CECA and its institutions. Three comprehensive legal assessments during the last four years performed by a Spanish law firm who specialized in electronic law guaranteed the full legal compliance of the system with the Spanish and European legislation, particularly in regard to data protection directives. The last regulatory notices issued by the Bank of Spain endorsed the use of Digitalized Signature Systems (DSS), emphasizing a set of policies to address transparency and security issues connected to electronic signatures.

The analysis of the CECA DSS shows that the implementation of handwritten electronic signature capture has provided both subjective and objective benefits for member institutions, employees, and users of CECA financial services.

“A few years ago, we faced a true mountain of paperwork,” says Santiago Uriel, CECA Secretary of the Cooperation Board. “In order to reduce the printed documents and simplify our processes, we decided to implement the electronic signature solution from Wacom. The move to handwritten electronic digital signatures was the best decision we have made.”

For CECA, the benefits of this technology have been measurable both on and off the balance sheet.

“Since the first signature has been captured in 2009, more than 300 million documents have been signed via the signature pads and the tablets still all look nearly brand new,” he says. “The signature tablets have been embraced by our member institutions and the end users find the devices easy to use, with a signing experience as smooth and precise as signing with a pen on paper. The high quality of the Wacom signature tablets and the end user experience are factors in the great success of our project.”

Mike Dana is business development manager for Wacom. He can be reached at Mike.Dana@wacom.com. Santiago Uriel Arias, telecommunication engineer, has been working for more than 20 years in the financial sector. After working for 11 years at management consulting companies, where he lead the main core systems transformation in Spain and implemented the first core financial system in open platforms, he joined Chase Manhattan Bank in Spain as CTO in 1995. In 2004 he joined the Spanish Confederation Of Savings Banks as CIO of the Cooperation Area of the Confederation, where he has been leading the innovation activities of the banks from new SOA architectures to the Digitalized Signature project. Since 2011, he has been responsible for all areas of cooperation (business, technology, efficiency, payments and regulation) and is the secretary of the commission of the board.

 

 

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April 15, 2013


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