ABC plans nationwide expansion of electronic signatures for loan documents – finance – software

The Commonwealth Bank wants to enable electronic signatures for commercial loans and mortgage documents nationwide, after stepping up its use of the technology in NSW and Victoria during Covid.

Timothy Roberts, senior director of process and technology in ABC’s commercial lending sector, said FST Media Future of Financial Services Conference that the bank had “stepped up its efforts under Covid” to digitize contracts and allow them to be signed, certified and returned electronically.

NSW and Victoria passed emergency laws that allowed a wider range of documents to be signed and / or attested electronically during the pandemic.

This allowed business owners or loan seekers who couldn’t make it to a branch or office to physically sign documents so they could be completed electronically instead.

Roberts said the CBA uses DocuSign “to provide loan documents for both business loans and home purchases.”

“Covid has provided us with the scorching platform to cross many internal and external barriers,” he said.

“Laws [also] changed under the emergency regulations of the Commonwealth and a number of states which gave us a clear lead that we did not have before. “

The bank also still had to go through its own internal doors for approval, involving operational, technology, compliance, legal, product and digital teams.

“But the good thing is we got everyone’s attention,” said Roberts.

“The leaders pushed this to happen. Everyone had to come to the party and probably respond in a shorter time than they normally would. “

The need for an electronic signature was particularly acute in Victoria, where residents and business owners have faced months of closings and closings.

“In Victoria we have had clients who have been locked up for months, unable to go to the bank, unable to meet, and they have to keep doing business or in some cases keep the business afloat in. really tough times, ”said Roberts.

“The paper-based process just wasn’t going to work, so digitize it, be able to deliver documents electronically so that they could be viewed by customers at home at their convenience, electronically signed and returned to the bank. [meant] we [could] Provide them with the funding or put things in place that have helped their businesses stay afloat or thrive in a foreclosure situation. “

Scaling and Out

Initially, the CBA used DocuSign as the default delivery mechanism for documents associated with emergency loans owed to Covid.

“We had this rollout in May and I think we had an adoption rate of around 95%, so most of these loans were able to be done using DocuSign,” Roberts said.

“Since then we have extended it to a wider range of standstill loans under emergency regulations in New South Wales and Victoria.

“We focused on NSW and Victoria because they were the most affected states, and because that’s where the laws were clearest and gave us the cleanest path to expand to a wide range of documents.

“We’ve only been living in Victoria and NSW for less than two months now, but adoption is already up to 20-30 percent, and that’s [out] of all transactions we enter into, including transactions that are currently beyond the reach of DocuSign.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the adoption.

Roberts said in most cases the turnaround time for paperwork has improved.

“The time taken to exit, sign and return documents is drastically reduced,” he said.

” I will not tell [it] halved, but [they take] a little over half the time if you look at the median of the volume we’ve processed so far, so it has certainly taken days, if not a week, for the turnaround time to the median.

Most importantly for the CBA, the documents came back without errors or strikethroughs, which saved time.

“Obviously, with DocuSign and the like, he won’t let you finish unless you’ve signed all the right covenants,” Roberts said.

“It won’t let you edit documents, it won’t let you lose a page, it won’t allow you to mark up or strike out a clause, and it tracks its progress so you know exactly where it is and where it is.” it must be and does not disappear in the same way as with [pieces of] paper, so we see a lot less errors.

Over the past month, CBA has also started using the electronic witness capabilities within DocuSign, again taking advantage of temporary changes to New South Wales laws.

“We went live last month with e-witness, which is a feature of Docusign that allows a document not only to be signed but to be seen by a third party,” said Roberts.

“In many cases, the law requires that the documents be certified. Specifically in New South Wales, deeds can be signed electronically under emergency regulations, but they still need to be attested.

“In Victoria it’s a little different – they can be signed electronically but they don’t need to be witnesses, so different jurisdictions have different requirements.

“But in New South Wales we had to solve the problem of witnessing it.”

When a loan client receives their documents through DocuSign, they are asked to designate a witness.

They must then set up a videoconference with the witness and share their screen, thus making it possible to attend the electronic signature.

“When they have completed this, the workflow in DocuSign will send an email to the witness who can then sign as a witness and attest that they have witnessed the sign of the signer, then when they are done, they can sign off as a witness. comes back to the bank, ”Roberts said.

Roberts added that CBA had used electronic testimony on “a few hundred transactions so far.”

“Ideally, you wouldn’t have to do this, but we still face – in many cases – laws written over 100 years ago that require documents to be signed on parchment and vellum paper,” did he declare.

Overall, Roberts said the increase in electronic signature and electronic witness capabilities has enabled the bank to lend money to “hundreds of customers who otherwise would not have been able to afford it. ‘borrow … to continue their activities’.

“They were able to do it with a tight turnaround time,” he said.

“We have had clients in some cases who are stuck overseas or interstate or isolated and this has allowed us to continue to support our clients during this time.”

Roberts said the CBA wants to speed up its use of the technology, bringing it nationwide and applying it in more forms, although all expansion plans are still subject to legal and regulatory differences. between states and territories.

He also noted that some forms would likely need to be redesigned to make them more suitable candidates for digitization.

“In many cases, there is no precedent for what we’re doing,” said Roberts.

“We are dealing, in many cases, with signature forms that are not designed to be signed electronically. They are designed to be on paper.

Roberts suggested the bank would adopt an iterative process to expand its use of the technology.

“Our next step is to … go national and expand our standstill offerings outside of NSW and Victoria,” he said.

“Queensland is probably the next step – they have state-based emergency regulations, but some challenges are that their mortgage documents still have to be signed in wet ink on parchment or vellum paper, and they have to be assisted by a justice of the peace.

“So there is a challenge there, but it can be solved. We just need to look into it, design the process, get the right approvals, make sure we’re doing it in the smartest way, and always comply with all laws and safety requirements.

Roberts was confident that the bank had the adequate internal resources and capacity to advance electronic signature.

“Right now we have a great team and we’ve done amazing things,” he said.

“We can see the next steps and the great opportunities still present, and we can now go back to the business and say, ‘Without too much effort, we can keep moving forward and make this a truly national proposition’, solving many problems as we go.

“The Covid emergency was the engine of innovation; then new opportunities arise and you keep moving forward.


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