World.Paper.Free.Day.jpgAs digital banking takes over, the age of paperless banking is here - almost!

Switch to online statements only and get all the account access without the clutter. Sound familiar? Banks are encouraging customers to sign up for online banking, allowing customers the option of receiving both paper and electronic statements - in the hopes that electronic statements will outpace the old-fashioned alternative. And why not? Online banking has perks, including easy access to account histories and transactions, secure online access to protect against security risks, email alerts, and most important, an environmentally-friendly alternative to paper statements.

November 4, 2016 is World Paper Free Day, a day AIIM describes as "the one day each year when we band together as a community to reduce the amount of paper in our business processes." Whether its online statments or automatic email notifications, moving to paperless, digital processes is not just about being environmentally friendly.

Paperless.Banking.2016.jpgMoving from paper-centric to digital processes can dramatically impact a financial institution's efficiency and performance.

Banking productivity improves 39 percent when electronic forms replace paper and workflows are used to streamline processes, according to AIIM research, which shows that there is significant scope within most businesses to improve both staff productivity and customer response time by eliminating paper from the process. This can be especially true of financial institutions due to their historical reliance on paper forms, statements and the need for regulatory compliance. 

Indeed, the paperless momentum of today's banks and financial institutions is going strong, with more and more banks and credit unions optimizing advanced Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems to support and improve customer service and engagement. According to AIIM research, building the process workflow around an ECM facilitates the forms-based element of the workflow in much the same way as a dedicated capture solution, but also provides a controlled and compliant home for additional documents. By extension, an ECM system can also form the basis of operational management, providing collaborative project sites and searchable repositories for all types of day-to-day corporate content.

What's more, going paper-free derives the usual expected productivity benefits from a capture project, including, but not limited to, reduction of manual keying, visibility of overloads and bottlenecks, elimination of paper stacks, and improved processing quality. With more and more millennials demanding a paper-free existence, and multi-generations depending on mobile phones to manage life's demands, financial instituations are recognizing the days of generating paper are rapidly declining as the age of the mobile consumer gains substantial traction. 

The Mobile Consumer

Mobile phones have increasingly become tools that consumers use for banking, payments, budgeting, and shopping. Given the rapid pace of change in the area of mobile finance, the Federal Reserve Board began conducting annual surveys of consumers' use of mobile financial services in 2011. The series examines trends in the adoption and use of mobile banking, payments, and shopping behavior and how the evolution of mobile financial services affects consumers' interaction with financial institutions. 

Key findings of the Federal Reserve Board 2015 survey included that 87 percent of the U.S. adult population uses mobile phones, with 77 percent using smartphones. As smartphone usage rises, adoption of mobile financial services continues to increase, with a majority of consumers using such mobile services for convenience. The survey was prepared by the Consumer and Community Development Research Section of the Federal Reserve Board's Division of Consumer and Community Affairs (DCCA).

According to the survey, 43 percent of all mobile phone owners with a bank account had used mobile banking in the 12 months prior to the survey, up from 39 percent in 2014 and 33 percent in 2013. Consistent with the Federal Reserve Board's surveys of recent years, the three most common mobile banking activities among mobile banking users were checking account balances or recent transactions (94 percent), transferring money between an individual's own accounts (58 percent), and receiving an alert (text message, push notification, or e-mail) from their bank (56 percent). 

It's important to note that security and privacy of personal information and privacy of personal information remained common concerns for mobile phone users, and many smartphone users reported taking steps to guard against possible risks. The majority of smartphone users reported taking actions that can reduce harm in case of a security incident. The most common actions were installing updates (84 percent), password-protecting the phone (70 percent), and customizing privacy settings (58 percent). 

Paperless.Banking.Paper.Free.Day.2016.jpgA Paperless Journey

The reality is, most banks began their paperless journey years ago and have established strong digital strategies to meet the increasing demands of digital consumers, including measures for security of personally identifiable information of consumers. Banks today are positioning to provide omnichannel experiences to mobile customers dependent upon mobile phones, tablets and laptops to manage their day-to-day finances. The digitization of banking is bringing with it online solutions and services for mobile customers, with multi-channel strategies for customer engagement in a world that is on a paperless journey.