Articles

Open Banking API Challenges: 4 Areas That Need Intervention

By Steven Chung and Bob Paajanen

woman solving api integration challenges

As financial institutions find their way into the digital world, they face competition from several non-bank forces, including FinTechs and Big Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon. FinTechs and Big Tech have begun rewriting the rules for the finance industry creating new ways of banking and new revenue streams. By offering speed, innovation, and unbundled financial services, digital non-banking entities are luring away customers from banks and credit unions. Open banking promises financial institutions an entry into the changing banking ecosystem by tapping into third-party application programming interfaces (APIs). But without the right strategy, banks may find themselves saddled with high costs, low time to value, vulnerable data systems, and no ROI to show.  

API Challenges 

As API adoption grows, so does the concern around how these APIs will be built or bought; how they will be managed; and the security and privacy risks that they present.  

API Standardization and Documentation 

The biggest concern around API adoption is standardization with more than 52% of organizations finding it a challenge. Unfortunately, there is no universal identity management framework which means that companies must rely on their developers to build their own management systems. Without proper documentation or style guides, different teams of developers within the organization may come up with varying standards for how the APIs are built and consumed, leading to issues with integration and management. The ‘State of Software Quality: API 2021’ study by SmartBear found that 54% of respondents pegged “accurate and detailed documentation as the second most important characteristic they needed in an API as an API consumer, ease of use being the topmost. Yet, close to 40% of the respondents did not use API management software or were using an in-house API management tool.  

API Security  

As banks use more APIs to enable digital businesses and provide web and mobile experiences to customers, the chances of security breaches also go up. There have been several incidents of API attacks and data leaks this year alone. API security is made worse by the fact that many organizations lack an inventory of the APIs they create or use from third parties. Research firm Gartner found that the common theme among many of the API breaches was that “the breached organization didn’t know about their unsecured API until it was too late.” Sadly, there is no tool that will automatically discover vulnerabilities in the APIs. Implementing API threat protection and access control will require endpoint security (processes, infrastructure, and protocols). Without an API management platform in place, this will present further challenges.  

“By 2022, API abuses will move from an infrequent to the most-frequent attack vector, resulting in data breaches for enterprise web applications.”
Gartner (2021)

API Governance standards and privacy regulations 

Government-dictated compliance frameworks around APIs are still some time away for Canadian financial institutions. This means that developers at banks and credit unions must rely on varying standards, including security standards, when it comes to how API integrations will work and be used. Without governance standards, financial institutions run the risk of exposing themselves to fraudulent third parties and exposing customer information in ways that could be used against their interests.  

API Reliability & Performance 

To support new functionalities and user experiences, developers in financial institutions are relying more and more on third-party APIs, APIs from business partners, and from other business units within the enterprise. Many of these APIs are licensed from providers that also look after their daily operations. Due to the composite nature of these applications, an outage with one third-party API can impact any application that is using that API. As of April 2022, there were close to 7.8 million failed API calls in the UK according to Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE). The financial entities with the most failed calls are the big banks including Barclays, Lloyds, and HSBC. Frequent API errors create a negative impact on customer experience and may lead to discontinued product use.  

Is your bank ready to adopt open banking? 

API integrations are a necessity as we move towards an open banking system. Financial institutions must have a clear strategy on how they want to implement, govern, monetize, and market APIs to ensure a frictionless customer experience and better business results.  

Blanc Labs has partnered with Axway to provide specialized solutions that make API integrations and management more efficient and cost-effective. Benefits of our unified API platform include:   

  1. Increased productivity, as developers are easily able to find and repurpose APIs instead of duplicating efforts or wasting time searching for them.   
  2. Less technical complexity by unifying and simplifying API services across the organization  
  3. Better security through a unified view of all APIs  
  4. Faster upgrades of legacy systems through an API-first layer allowing you to add new services more easily  
  5. More robust governance through centralized documentation that multiple teams of developers can reference 

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to learn about the impact of our API solutions for banking. 

 

Articles

Are your APIs causing more pain points instead of solving them?

By Steven Chung and Bob Paajanen

Now, more than ever, banks are looking at ways to modernize their core technology to meet customer demands for speed, personalization, and seamless digital experiences. For the banks, a large part of that involves securely exposing customer data to third-party systems and consuming data from them. A simple example of this is using your bank credit card to pay with an app such as Google Pay or Apple Pay. For this data exchange to take place, banks build their own application programming interfaces (APIs) or use third-party APIs to interact with other systems. From a digital transformation viewpoint, APIs are indispensable in making banking services more open.

A study on APIs in banking by McKinsey found that nearly 70% of the surveyed banks planned to double the number of internal and third-party APIs and triple the use of public APIs. However, not all API integrations are successful. Close to 40% of the banks mentioned above did not have an API strategy or were still evaluating APIs. Mismanagement of APIs only increases operational issues, decreases productivity, pulls up costs, and delivers incremental results at best. Here we explore five API integration challenges and how to overcome them.

API Integration Challenges

Put simply, APIs are supposed to make it easy for disparate systems to work together. But poor integration can have the opposite effect, leading to silos, duplication of efforts, and rising costs. Some of the API integration challenges include:

  1. Technological Complexity
  2. High Costs
  3. Security Risks
  4. Time Consumption
  5. Varying systems

Technological Complexity

API integration is not an easy process. In fact, of all the digital transformation initiatives, API integration may be the most daunting. The reason for this is that integrating APIs requires an overhaul of the bank’s core systems. Understandably, many banks and credit unions are reluctant to change their core systems in one go as seen in the chart below. Yet, 75% of banks state that the number one reason for focusing their corporate banking strategy on APIs is “improving internal corporate banking processes, workflows and product management.”

Intention to replace core systems

To carefully integrate APIs while upgrading core systems at a pace that is suited to the bank requires a team of experts including highly skilled developers that come with a heavy price tag.

High Costs

Hiring a team of experts to execute APIs is only one part of the cost of integrating APIs. The question for many financial institutions is one of build or buy as this requires significant financial resources, a dependable developer ecosystem, as well as a strategy to monetize these APIs so current costs may be justified. Building a single API can cost upwards of $10,000 (as of 2020) depending on the complexity of the integration and the times it takes developers to build it. Buying APIs may come at a lower cost. Either way, there is no getting around the expense of building APIs and integrating them with core systems.

Security Risks

In Canada, the number of stolen records went up by 4,379% between 2015 and 2020. A data breach in Canada costs approximately $6.35M CAD. The use of APIs is reliant on web-based applications, which means that they are more open to threats from hackers and ransomware. Add to this the fact that a data breach can severely damage the reputation of an organization. API integration projects require hiring a team of security experts as well as updated security protocols.

Time Consumption

Setting up an API connection and integration module can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. This is the time when the development team will learn the logic and architecture of your platform and work to reduce bugs, among other things. Financial institutions that choose the wrong API solution may find that they are losing out to the competition by coming in last.

Varying systems

Within APIs and API systems, there are all kinds of architectures and software. Every system has its own logic and therefore each integration has its unique challenges. With every new system that developers work with, they need time and expertise to integrate APIs with those systems. Therefore, with multiple integrations, the process does not get faster and only becomes more complex

How to overcome API integration challenges

API integrations are a necessity as we move towards an open banking system. Financial institutions must have a clear strategy on how they want to implement, govern, monetize and market APIs to avoid high costs, duplications, and incremental gains.

Blanc Labs has partnered with Axway to provide specialized solutions that make API integrations more efficient and cost effective. Benefits of our unified API platform include:

  1. Increased productivity, as developers are easily able to find and repurpose APIs instead of duplicating efforts or wasting time searching for them.
  2. Less technical complexity by unifying and simplifying API services across the organization
  3. Better security through a unified view of all APIs
  4. Faster upgrades of legacy systems through an API-first layer allowing you to add new services more easily
  5. More robust governance through centralized documentation that multiple teams of developers can reference

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to learn about the impact of our API solutions for banking.

Articles

Three Reasons Financial Institutions Are Losing Out to FinTechs

…And How to Keep Up with Digital Natives 

by Bob Paajanen and Charles Payne

Reasons why Banks and Losing Out to Fintechs

The way we bank has changed forever. While FinTechs have the latest technology innovations, what they don’t have is decades-worth of relationships with customers and large swaths of Big Data. Financial institutions need to recognize this advantage, leverage their data, streamline processes, and thereby empower their relationship managers if they want to compete with their new-age rivals.  

Mismanagement of Data 

Most financial institutions have multiple customer-facing systems that operate in their own silos. As many as 50% of banks and credit unions state that they have trouble accessing their internal data. Without a single unified view of their customer, banks and credit unions are unable to collect, process, or indeed deploy insights that will enable them to cross-sell products and services to their customers. 

The services gap left by financial institutions is especially felt in commercial banking where FinTechs are sweeping up SMBs with targeted products and quicker access to funds. A prominent example of this trend is Shopify, which started out as an e-commerce platform, but is now the tenth-largest provider of financial services to SMBs. Another example is Stripe, which has created an end-to-end lending API (application program interface) as its next offer to SMBs. 

Paper-heavy processes, and disparate data management systems are some of the major causes of this issue. As the finance industry moves toward open banking, it is imperative that financial institutions unlock the value of their data and translate it into actionable insights so they can improve their languishing businesses.  

why financial institutions are losing out to fintechs
Source: 11:FS ‘Fintech filling services gaps’ Designing digital financial services that work for US SMBs 

Lack of Efficiency 

A 2019 Gartner report estimated that process automation, including document processing, could save financial institutions 25,000 hours of avoidable work per year. With advances in technology in the last three years, it is not hard to imagine that this number may have gone up even further.  

Most of the productivity loss mentioned above has been attributed to human error. This is hardly surprising when many financial institutions continue to use paper-heavy loan origination models. Without automation, document processing is rife with efficiency and security issues including document mishandling, collaboration on email (generating multiple copies of the same document), versioning issues, loss of time to find the documents when required, a lack of compliance, and a lack of remote access. 

Since the pandemic, consumer expectations have changed dramatically. Close to 60% of customers today are open to completing their mortgage applications entirely online without support on the phone or in person. Even more pressing than the platform, is the need for speed, with customer satisfaction falling 15 percentage points for approvals that take longer than 10 days.  

With unprecedented demand for mortgages, financial institutions must speed up intake, underwriting and decisioning processes faster if they want to keep the customer’s business. 

Costs  

Inefficient loan origination processes lead to rising costs. On average, loan origination costs $7-9k per application. That is over and above the cost of productivity loss, estimated to be $878,000 (for 25,000 hours lost per year) for a company with a 40-person finance team. This cost is invariably passed on to the customer who may end up paying higher fees and charges compared to what they might pay if they opted for a non-banking entity.  

rising cost of loan origination

The FinTechs Are Coming… And how to slow them down 

As a result of service gaps and inefficiencies, customers from both commercial and retail banking have been veering towards nonbanking entities for loans. 50% of Canadian SMBs in 2021 felt that they couldn’t maintain their growth strategies “due to a lack of capital.” Today, nonbanking entities, account for more than 70% of total originations. By using automated processes and digital interfaces, non-banking entities or FinTechs are 25% cheaper than the industry average and can deliver a decision 30% faster compared to other financial entities.  

In the age of Open Banking, it is important that financial institutions update their legacy processes and unlock the potential of their data if they want to survive.  

The automation journey begins with intelligent document processing. Blanc Labs provides a 360-degree IDP (Intelligent Document Processing) solution that can:  

  • Automate workflows for document collection, digitization, and analysis 
  • Replace manual effort through intelligent data capture 
  • Connect with third party data providers for analysis and insights 
  • Analyze document data, provide status alerts, and flag fraudulent entries 
  • Secure documents in a drop box 
  • Deploy on-premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid model 

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to learn about the impact of our IDP solutions for banking.  

 

Articles

4 Ways APIs Can Improve Your Bank

by Bob Paajanen and Steven Chung

Man using banking APIs for transactions

With the urgent need to catch up with FinTechs and appease customers, there is a lot of discussion today around digital transformation in banks and how technology can improve both the customer experience and the bottom line. The word API is thrown around, but few understand the tangible impact of how APIs can improve your bank. In this article, we break down what APIs can do and the areas in which they can significantly change the ways in which banks operate.   

What is an API? 

An API or Application Programming Interface allows disparate systems to communicate with one another. Think of APIs as waiters at a restaurant—they take your order and relay that order to the kitchen. The kitchen prepares your order, and the waiters bring it back to you. The waiter here is a middleman that relays important information that is within the framework of the menu (defining what information should be shared) in a format that is understood by the kitchen (structured data).  

The most common examples of APIs include “login using Facebook” or “login using Google” which use APIs to connect your Fb and Google accounts to a third-party website.  

The use of APIs increases flexibility, increases efficiencies and therefore improves the user experience.

What are banking APIs? 

Banking APIs are specific to banking software. Since the pandemic, the demand for APIs has grown as customers expect real-time 24/7 support across all banking functions. Using APIs can allow the bank’s systems to talk to one another thereby providing the customer with a unified and seamless banking experience.  

The use of banking APIs is up from 35% in 2019 to 47% in 2021 and another 25% of banks and credit unions plan to invest in APIs by 2022.  

Using APIs not only connects legacy systems to one another but gives financial institutions the opportunity to reimagine how their operating model works, what the customer journey should look like and how they would like to interact with customers. Indeed, the use of APIs today, according to PYMNTS, could be compared to getting the “proverbial plumbing in place to enable new digital experiences.” 

Source: Business Insider

APIs and the future of Open Banking

Open banking is a system where banks enable their financial data to be securely accessible to third parties with the use of APIs. Using APIs gives financial institutions access to new banking technologies such as digital lending, online mortgage approvals, digital payments, account opening, engagement tools, analytical tools and a host of other functionalities, while also empowering customers to have more control over their data.  

What can APIs do for your bank?

There are many types of APIs created for a variety of functions. In this article, we will focus on four of the most common types of banking APIs and how they can help in your digital transformation and modernizing efforts.  These are:

  1. Integration
  2. Connectivity
  3. Platform Banking
  4. Innovation

Integration

Banking systems set up even five years ago are now considered legacy systems. Such legacy systems don’t usually communicate well with newer technologies.  Failure to keep up with the consumer or regulatory demands of today may render the bank obsolete. This is where APIs come in. Instead of replacing legacy systems—a time-consuming and expensive process—APIs can help legacy systems communicate with new software at a fraction of the cost and twice the speed. A good example of APIs integrating banking systems would be providing a branch locator (using mapping software like Google Maps) on the bank’s mobile app.  

With advancements in technology and frequently updated regulatory requirements, integrating legacy systems with newer technologies is no longer a choice but a necessity.  

Connectivity 

As services such as personal financial management become more automated across various functions within the bank, there is a growing need for better governance of user data, including customer checking and credit history.  

Because APIs also regulate the information that they share between systems, they can filter out relevant information to a third party without disclosing every detail. They can also time how long the information will be available to a third-party program. For example, credit history may be available for only 30 days.  

APIs available today, especially REST APIs(or web-based APIs), are lightweight, faster, more scalable, and offer real-time connectivity, making them a perfect use case for mobile applications.  

Platform Banking 

Many non-bank businesses such as FinTechs today opt for the banking-as-a-platform strategy, where APIs are used to connect the non-bank business to a bank. With the use of APIs the non-bank business can use the bank’s license and regulatory framework, thereby offering banking services without being banks themselves. This means lower operations costs, which they can pass on to the customer in the form of lower fees and better rates. Banks on the other hand can take advantage of the newer technologies offered by the FinTechs to improve their service offerings without having to build them themselves.  

An example of this is Tangerine Bank, a no-branch “bank” that offers banking services like savings and checking accounts using Scotiabank’s banking license to operate. APIs allow seamless, real-time connectivity for Tangerine customers, allowing them to access their banking information on their mobile app.  

Innovation 

The ability to plug-and-play innovative technologies means that banks can now offer a variety of new products while creating better efficiencies at the back end. Using APIs, banks can circumvent an overhaul of their legacy systems, improving bits and pieces at a time. This will save banks both money and time. APIs also allow banks to integrate products and services in a modular way. This gives them a wider choice of vendors, and with that comes better control of price, quality, and delivery.  

Banks need not always depend on third parties to add on new products and services. If they decide to go their modernization route themselves, they can use APIs to standardize the process and add tools without making drastic changes to the underlying system—something that most banks prefer.  

APIs can also help connect one banking system to another. For example, an API can connect the lending workflow with a customer’s personal banking workflow. This connection can provide better efficiencies, reduce manual work, and improve employee satisfaction. APIs can also integrate automation tools such as end-to-end journal entries, loan document processing, and report creation on top of legacy systems, saving time and cost. A 2019 report by Accenture predicted that banks would see a productivity gain of US$ 59 billion by 2025 thanks to automation. This number is probably higher in the context of the pandemic, which forced banks to automate and modernize their processes even more aggressively.  

Current Challenges with API integration 

While many banking institutions recognize the benefits of APIs, integrating them into the banking system is not without its challenges. This is especially so when you have multiple teams across geographies using a variety of API tools and vendors. This leads to duplication of efforts, further complicates the system and therefore leads to a loss in productivity.  Using the right API platform can take care of these issues while giving the additional benefit of security and governance.  

Integrate APIs in your banking system with Blanc Labs 

APIs offer an exciting future for banks. It is imperative that banks take advantage of new technological products and services and leverage open banking, so they are not left behind in the race with FinTechs and other competitor banks.  

Blanc Labs offers APIs that unify all ledgers and functions so that banks can get a true 360-degree view of their customers and help banks upgrade systems to meet regulatory standards.  

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to learn about the impact of our API solutions for banking.  

Articles

Why Banks Need Intelligent Document Processing

By Charles Payne and Donald Geerts 

Why banks need intelligent document processing

In the last two years, we have witnessed a consumer engagement revolution. The pandemic has seen a rush toward digital channels in all facets of life, including the banking industry. The need for instant gratification and round-the-clock support means that lenders must process customer or broker requests faster while balancing security, compliance, and risk management. Data released by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) suggests that in the first half of 2021, the mortgage industry in Canada saw its fastest growth in the last 10 years. Given the rising demand of the market, the “need for speed” in the loan origination and decisioning process is at the top of the list.   

Staying ahead of the competition requires a digital transformation that often begins with intelligent document processing as the first step. Financial institutions must partner with the right intelligent document processing (IDP) solution provider that will deliver both speed and accuracy to meet consumer expectations.  

why banks need intelligent document processing

Tedious and time-consuming processes 

The process of mortgage approval or renewal involves many, many documents. Before a mortgage is even approved, a mobile mortgage lender must collect and organize documents (sometimes handwritten), send them to various personnel in the financial organization to be vetted, and finally return to the customer with a yes or no—a process that can take up days or weeks. If a bank takes too long to respond to a borrower, they may turn to offers from other lenders. Such a situation is easily avoided with the help of intelligent document processing. Once a document is received, the right IDP program can classify it, extract data from the document, and store the data in a way that is accessible around the clock, not just to employees of the lender but to RPA (robotic process automation) processes as well. If additional documents are required, the RPA process can notify the mortgage agent or borrower. If the application is complete, then the RPA can send the data ahead for auto-decisioning. Using IDP in combination with RPA can ensure a quick turnaround on an application without consuming too much time. 

Organizations with no digital document processing reported 10x more at-risk customers and 2x more at-risk revenue compared to other companies. (Forrester, 2020) 

Inability to scale 

One way to address the growing demand for mortgages is to hire, train and retain more employees. However, increasing the size of the team may result in a higher time to value (as new employees will take time to ramp up to desired levels of efficiency) and increased costs too. Lenders can benefit from IDP solutions that may be scaled up quickly with a marginal infrastructure cost.  

Just digitization isn’t enough 

Many lenders today receive applications through mortgage portals. While the first step of digitization of documents is taken care of, banks do not follow through to ensure the proper classification, extraction, and storage of these documents. As a result, an employee must still go through the documents to verify and authenticate their contents to ensure they are adequate for an application. It is no surprise that knowledge workers lose 50% of their time preparing documents and therefore, experience a 21% loss in productivity because of document issues.  

Security and risks 

Worldwide, the digital fraud attempt rate grew by 52.2% in 2021 compared to two years earlier. Banks or financial institutions that do not have intelligent document processing capabilities may be caught off guard or may not be able to respond in time to stop transactions. IDP, on the other hand, can reduce the incidence of fraudulent transactions by assessing large volumes of historical data accurately and in real-time. By identifying the patterns, an automated system can immediately flag a suspicious transaction and stop it if necessary.  

KYC is another area where IDP software can help by minimizing human error. The IDP program can read submitted documents, verify the identity and details of the customer by searching through data repositories and even assign them a risk score, thereby helping the lenders meet regulatory standards.  

Unaligned with consumer demands 

Unsatisfactory products and fees, slow response to problem resolution, and a lack of convenience are some of the top reasons why financial institutions are are losing out to FinTechs and digital-only banks. One of the biggest contributions IDP can make is to automate repetitive manual tasks and free up lenders employees’ time in activities that will increase customer satisfaction—building trust & rapport and enhancing product offerings.  

Automate document processing with Blanc Labs 

There are many reasons why banks need intelligent document processing, and Blanc Labs provides a 360-degree IDP solution that can:  

  • Automate workflows for document collection, digitization and analysis 
  • Replace manual effort through intelligent data capture
  • Connect with third party data providers for analysis and insights 
  • Analyze document data, provide status alerts, and flag fraudulent entries 
  • Secure documents in a drop box 
  • Deploy on premises, in the cloud or as a hybrid model 

 

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to learn about the impact of our IDP solutions for banking.  

Articles

Extraction: The Next Step in Intelligent Document Processing  

By Luciano Lera Bossi, Alejandro Nava and Parsa Morsal  

intelligent document processing extraction

One of the starting points of digital transformation, especially for financial institutions, is intelligent document processing or IDP. We previously explored classification as the first step in IDP. In this article, we will explore the next crucial step, extraction.   

What is document extraction?  

Document data extraction is a process of extracting data from structured or unstructured documents and converting them into usable data. It is also called intelligent data capture. With the rapid progress in document imaging technology such as the incorporation of natural language processing (NLP) and optical character recognition (OCR) as well as advanced analytics, we can now enable IT systems to understand the data that was thus far only on paper.  

Powered by machine learning models and NLP, IDP systems can now bring the benefits of AI to document processing. The intelligence and detail offered by IDP systems today can be used for many functions including compliance and fraud. The level of granularity, accuracy, and speed offered by IDP systems today, can hugely impact the scale of digital transformation for your organization.  

Document processing and the banking industry  

The financial industry is no stranger to the benefits of IDP. In a recent study of 200 banks in the US, it was found that 66% of the respondents eliminated the need for manual processes for a typically labor-intensive industry thanks to IDP; and 87% cited accuracy and extraction as the key reasons for incorporating IDP into their systems. Given the emphasis on accuracy and extraction, it is important to understand how intelligent document processing coupled with OCR and NLP can give desired results.

OCR vs IDP

OCR as a document processing technology has been around the longest. OCR is used to extract handwritten or typed text in documents which can then be converted into data. While OCR has been synonymous with data extraction for many years, it is not without its challenges. Without intelligent processing of the data in understanding what the data is for, OCR may give inaccurate results. There can be errors in detecting a text block in an image (error in word detection), there may be errors in interpreting words correctly if there are differences in text alignment or spacing (error in word segmentation) or there may be errors in identifying a character bound in a character image (error in character recognition).   

However, when combined with intelligent processes such as NLP and machine learning analytics, time-intensive processing tasks can be sped up with minimal errors. The biggest differentiator between OCR and IDP is that IDP can also handle documents that may be structured, semi-structured, or unstructured.

Structured Documents  

Structured documents generally focus on collecting information in a precise format, guiding the person who is filling them with precise areas where each piece of data needs to be entered.  These come in a fixed form and are generally called forms. Examples of structured documents include tax forms and credit reports.   

Semi-structured Documents  

Semi-structured documents are documents that do not follow a strict format the way structured forms do and are not bound to specified data fields.  These don’t have a fixed form but follow a common enough format.  They may contain paragraphs as well. Example of semi-structured documents could be employment contracts or gift letters.  

Unstructured Documents  

Unstructured documents are documents in which the information isn’t organized according to a clear, structured model. These files are all easily comprehensible by human beings, yet much more difficult for a robot. Examples of unstructured documents include mortgage commitment statements and municipal tax forms.   

Textual and Visual data extraction in IDP  

The two main aspects that efficient IDP solutions tackle are textual data extraction and visual data extraction. In textual data extraction, the entity extraction technique is applied to recognize text in a document. This is a machine learning approach where the software is exposed to thousands of documents and the machine “learns” to identify information and segregate it based on certain semantic parameters. Entity extraction can involve a variety of tools and techniques including neural networks to visual layout understanding. By using entity extraction methods, you can avoid going down the template route and thereby use the software on various kinds of documents.   

In visual data extraction, IDP solutions can be designed to understand elements such as signatures, tables, checkboxes, logos, etc. Visual data extraction is more complex than textual data extraction as it involves detecting, analyzing, and extracting information from the regions with visual elements accurately while also denoising content that is not relevant. Using machine learning, advanced visual extraction models can also understand the structural relationship of the visual data and its relevance.   

Choosing the right IDP solution that can handle both text and visual elements accurately across varying document types will ensure that there is no need for your back office to comb through documents once again.   

Explore Kapti, our intelligent document processing software to find out how the power of machine learning and automated document workflows can transform your organization’s document processing experience.  

  

Articles

4 Ways to Avoid A Failed Automation Journey 

by Saurabh Bhatia 

4 Ways to Avoid A Failed Automation Journey

In recent years there has been a growing desire among financial institutions to automate processes as they move upstream to meet customer requirements. Before important decisions like loans and underwriting decisions are even made, financial institutions are deploying automation at the start of the process to provide a seamless digital-first experience.  

Research shows that automation is one of the fastest and most efficient ways for financial institutions to acquire, enhance and deliver information, reduce costs and save manual labor. Then why is it that most automation initiatives fail?  

4 Ways to Avoid A Failed Automation Journey 

A survey by EY states that 30-50% of initial RPA projects failed to realize their expected returns. The diagnosis suggests some challenges the enterprises typically face in their automation journey which potentially cause the RPA failure. Here we explore 4 ways in which enterprises can avoid automation journey failures: 

1. Give importance to change management and training 

2. Create automation champions within the organization 

3. Use the right tools to understand what needs to be automated 

4. Keep employee experience at the core of the automation vision 

Let’s dive in! 

Give importance to change management and training 

Automation cannot be successful without proper implementation of change management. Even if automation is a technical matter, it relies heavily on human relations. Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) is different than your typical IT project such as ERP/CRM etc. 

These projects require engagement from business users because, in essence, the role of the very same individual will evolve with the adoption of automation. Organizations that have been successful in their automation journey have put a real emphasis on the training and mobility of their teams when implementing automated processes. One of the most common examples of this is the changes in the target user interface. Any changes to the UI interface of an RPA application or system will most likely halt the automation which can put projects in a critical condition. Therefore, some organizations ask their automation core team to regularly check for changes in the ecosystem of the dependencies (in this case the UI interface) to avoid any failures.  

Create automation champions within the organization  

Automation is here to stay and is evolving rapidly. However, many organizations still see their automation initiatives as a project and not as a journey. Automation today has moved away from being just a technology project and is more about data transparency and technology capability. Most organizations don’t approach automation with the rigor it requires, assuming the business workforce need only attend a few training courses and that they can, without the support of IT, generate enough extensive automation to scale a program. 

IT is a critical partner throughout the transformation process. Their role is to ensure that the system is scalable, reliable, secure, and performs well. To make automation scalable, organizations should have a core team who are experts in the automation space. Successful organizations use such a core team to articulate the business value of automation well and get buy-in from key stakeholders within their organization. The core team articulates the need, advantages, and roll-out plan to each stakeholder before moving ahead with automation. 

Behaviours Driving Intelligent Automation Success & Failure

Use the right tools to understand what needs to be automated

Not all business processes are considered fit for automation. Choosing the wrong pilot process without understanding the needs can become one of the major reasons for failed automation initiatives. The success of any automation program strongly depends on a deep understanding of how processes will get handled on-ground.

Organizations are moving towards discovery tools such as process mining, task mining, and task capture which identify automation and improvement potential in end-to-end business processes and unleash the true value of automation.

You can use “The Three Rs of Automation Discovery”, to guide your approach towards successful discovery and automation implementation.

Keep employee experience at the core of the automation vision

In recent years we have realized that automation is not about replacing human beings but helping them be more efficient and using them for strategic work rather than manual. Automation projects require even more engagement from these individuals (users) to ensure the stability of the automation program.

It is important that organizations have full management support to communicate and reassure their teams that automation is more about reducing boring/repetitive tasks so that they can focus on more interesting and fulfilling work. Think about a contact center agent in a bank who struggles daily with clients because they had to go through 15 or 16 applications to do simple resolutions. They will be better off with an easier interface where they can focus more on the clients rather than swivel chair operations.  Automation can help these contact centers to reshape the experience not only of the customer but also of the team members, which will also lead to better talent retention rate.

The Bottomline

There is no question that Intelligent automation has demonstrated exceptional results, from predicting behavior to streamlining operations. But its implementation needs to be thoughtful, effective, and pragmatic to ensure its long-term success. There are other factors that can cause a project to fail including the lack of testing and not following the best development practices. However, these 4 reasons are primary and should be taken into consideration before starting your automation journey.

Blanc Labs has proven experience working with organizations to identify and implement intelligent automation solutions. We take a holistic approach, helping organizations build the necessary foundation and setting them up for long-term success in a hyper-automation environment.

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to discover the impact of our Intelligent Automation solution.

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Customer Centricity As The Essence Of Digital Transformation

by Abhijit Chakravarty

Digital Transformation may well be one of the most overused terms among the C-Suite, business consultants, and the industry overall. It is an axiom that increasingly falls in the category of being painfully cliché, but the fact of the matter is that the term isn’t about digital technology. It’s less to do with technology and more about organizational transformation and change management with human capital at its core.

The fourth industrial revolution is all things Meta with its blurring lines between the real and digital worlds. Characterized by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), it has created a fundamental shift in the way we will conduct business. The power now is truly in the hands of the new-age customer, who decides when, where, and how they will transact.

While the “customer is king” moniker has always been around, thanks to new research, we are now able to see exactly which factors in a digital transformation correlate with being a financially successful company, and why indeed, companies should care about digital transformation.

Source: Harvard Business Review

A recent study by Deloitte found that more digitally mature companies see higher gains in customer satisfaction, gross margin as well as long-term gains. With customers at the center of the digital transformation, more digital maturity can lead to better net revenue and net profit margin, as seen in the graphic below:

Why is this? The answer is that digitally mature companies can add value for their customers. Deloitte identified seven digital pivots, listed below, which successful organizations made, with customers at their center. As a result, they were more agile when it came to responding to customer demands (products and services), improving customer relations (being culturally relevant and bringing diversity and inclusion), or enhancing customer experience (seamless transition between mobile and in-person experience and 24/7 support). These successful enterprises were also able to adapt their business model and boost innovation.

Pivot 1: Flexible, secure infrastructure

Pivot 2: Data Mastery

Pivot 3: Digitally savvy, open talent networks

Pivot 4: Ecosystem engagement

Pivot 5: Intelligent workflows

Pivot 6: Unified Customer Experience

Pivot 7: Business model adaptability

The business and financial impact of a digital transformation centered around the customer is not lost on the C-suite either. Companies with higher digital maturity see benefits across cost reduction, increased sales, and better customer lifetime value. According to this report by KPMG, as many as 67% of CEOs agree that the agility provided by digital transformation is “the new currency of business; if we’re too slow, we will be bankrupt.”

Digital transformation’s real purpose is about empowering the server (business) and the served (customer). In coming years, we will see businesses re-imagining, growing, and transforming themselves by placing the digitally empowered demi-gods, a.k.a the customer, at the epicenter. The alternative, unfortunately, is worse.

At Blanc Labs, we understand that every organization’s needs are different. This is why we offer advisory and consulting services to understand your unique issues and get you started with your digital transformation journey. Book a discovery call with us to learn more.

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Challenges in Digital Lending

Digital lending has evolved over the last ten years and the pandemic has only exacerbated the need for intuitive, enjoyable, dynamic, and accessible lending systems for both lenders and borrowers. In the age of Apple and Amazon, borrowers demand a seamless experience that does not involve speaking to a human being or filling out paper forms.

While traditional banks and monoline lenders are overhauling their systems to address these challenges, FinTech companies are making use of the gaps left by the big banks.

Challenges in Digital Lending

The Era of Digital Lending

According to the Canada Banker’s Association, 49% of Canadians do their banking digitally, but more importantly, 75% of Canadians intend to maintain the digital banking habits they picked up during the pandemic. Compared to five years ago, FinTech companies in the US today account for more than 38% of the personal loan space. Traditional banks, on the other hand, saw a loss of 12% of the personal loan space during the same period.

Why is this? The reason is a lack of simplicity, speed, and accessibility.

Leading FinTechs today can provide multiple quotes within minutes and fund loans within a matter of day. Apart from speed, online lenders today offer a seamless, fully digital experience as well as advanced features including security and risk assessment that does not involve a long-drawn-out credit check process.

U.S. Digital Lending Platform Market Size

Digital Lending Challenges Faced by Lenders Today

Creating a fully automated, digital-first lending solution can be a complex process, especially if you don’t have the right tools and automation in place.

Automated self-service, compliance, fraud and cyber-security, document processing are just some of the many challenges that traditional financial institutions must overcome to match the experience offered by FinTechs today.

Here is our point of view on some of these key challenges:

1. Complicated and Slow Loan Origination Process

Can you think of living in a time before same-day delivery or tap payments? Neither can borrowers.

Companies that don’t offer instantaneous loan decisions run the risk of losing their customer to a FinTech that is faster and can provide quick decisions. Relying on antiquated loan origination processes that require filling multiple paper forms, visiting the bank in person, and taking days to evaluate risks and make funding decisions, will spell trouble. One study shows that 42% of respondents abandoned their applications because the process was too long and complicated, and 62% said they were unsatisfied with the digital experience, due to “too many touchpoints” and “the necessity of going to a physical location.”

Nimble FinTechs on the other hand are assessing credit risk and offering funds at the speed of light. One study by Smarter Loans found that 53% of respondents received their funds a mere 24 hours after applying for it, “suggesting that same-day-funding is becoming a standard in the industry.”

Thankfully, banks can implement digital native loan origination platforms that can automate the end to end loan origination process;  or they can address bottlenecks in it like underwriting, which will make the process more streamlined for both borrowers and lenders.

2. Partial measures instead of end-to-end solutions

Delivering an end-to-end solution is a mammoth task that needs significant resources and time.   The world of lending is full of large projects that took twelve to eighteen months to deliver value and this is not going to disrupt the FinTech community. Success for this is now measured in mere months.  Moreover, automating one part of the customer journey and ignoring the rest can cause more complications in the long run and can re-introduce manual intervention. Instead of a piecemeal approach, consider a unified lending solution with a modular structure that addresses all steps from information collection to underwriting, servicing, and reporting.  It is important to get the end state vision right first and then you can make incremental changes building towards your best customer journey if you elect to do things in recommended phases.

3. Document Intake and Data Storage

While traditional banks and brokers have been busy processing loans through paper-based or hardwired systems, FinTech companies are using automated processes to process loans faster and more transparently. Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) can automate the document intake process and apply AI (artificial intelligence) plus ML (machine learning) to extract data with more accuracy while converting unstructured data into structured data, making the data more useable. This can save you money and reduce human data entry error.  In most cases, this data can be prepopulated into origination and adjudication engines to drive faster straight-through processing and time to decisioning the loan.

Also visit: www.kapti.io

Productivity loss due to manual document management

4. Data Silos and Lack of Personalisation

During a digital transformation project, it is important to design the system in a way that the multiple components within that system can speak to each other and convey relevant data. If for some reason this does not happen, then it simply consumes more time—time that can be used for strategizing and planning. With so many systems in  silos, banks may not get a true 360-degree view of their business with a customer, therefore making it difficult to create personalized offers and recommendations for that customer. Ideally, banks should have a unified, transparent view of deposits, loans, and personal accounts if they want to keep the customer engaged and cross-sell new lending products over time to grow their share-of-wallet.

5. Regulations

Borrowers that come through the digital lending channel hand over a lot of sensitive information and so it makes good sense that lenders hardwire a regulatory compliance framework into their platform. Luckily, there are experts that can help business leaders stay on top of banking regulations and data privacy laws. The regulatory environment is rapidly changing and new industry driven changes around Open Banking are emerging as well. These dynamics are going to redefine and further embolden  FinTechs, drawing clear lines around how the participants in the banking ecosystem will work together.  Full assurance on regulatory reporting and compliance with industry standards is table stakes in any solution that meets this demand.

A Unified Lending Solution for Lenders

Blanc Labs provides a three-stage approach for digital lending which includes:

– Consulting assessment of your needs

– Streamlining processes and platforms

– Intelligent documentation processing (IDP)

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to discover the impact of our digital lending solutions.

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The Three Rs of Automation Discovery

By Saurabh Bhatia

Before you begin the process of automation at your company, you need to check for the Three Rs of Automation Discovery which will ensure the long-term success of automation implementation. In this article, we will look at:

Automation Discovery’s 1st R: Reimagine the vision

Automation Discovery’s 2nd R: Return on investment calculation

Automation Discovery’s 3rd R: Reusing Automation

Why are The Three Rs of Automation Discovery so important?

automation discovery

So you’ve decided that you want in on the automation game. Great! Now you’re in the all-encompassing process of discovery and implementation. This is where you, the organization that is looking to adopt automation, needs to articulate your business needs, asses how automation will impact your operations, and then determine a successful implementation roadmap with your tech partner. Here are three components, “The Three Rs”, that should guide your approach towards a successful discovery and automation implementation.

Automation Discovery’s 1st R: Reimagine the Vision

Begin by reinventing the way you look at your operations and its processes. It goes without saying that you should start with standard process automation first to demonstrate its value. But during the discovery phase, explore all tools that will compound the value of automation for your organization. For example, if you are looking to automate the mortgage lending process, take a step back and examine the added benefit your organization will get from adding power BI dashboards or analytics systems that provide more actionable insights or discovery tools which identify which other processes and tasks could be automated.

Keep in mind a vision of an organization fueled by hyperautomation as you explore various options in addition to standard process automation namely, intelligent document processing, business intelligence reporting, process mining, chatbots, etc. There is a full stack of options you can explore to heighten the benefits of technology and establish that future state of hyperautomation.

Automation Discovery’s 2nd R: Return on Investment Calculation

Understandably the most common driver in decision making is about the returns you will see with the option of automation (or any other technology solution). Determine how you will calculate ROI prior to beginning work on the solution. We recommend creating a business case with a very clear prioritization matrix and roadmap of automation and its benefits. This will determine the focus both long term and short term.

Pro Tips:

  • Determine which licenses and automation tools are most useful and cost effective for the overall solution
  • Adopt licenses and tools and build your infrastructure to support the scalability of automation (and sunset those that are no longer in use)
  • Don’t forget, to consider monetary metrics which deeply impact the business in your calculations

Automation Discovery’s 3rd R: Reusing Automation

Some organizations feel like they’re starting from scratch every time they introduce a bot to their processes. In reality, you reutilize some parts of your previous assets (from one bot to another) to make automation faster. For example, if you have multiple processes, teams and departments using the same application or program, we encourage you to create reusable assets with the first bot so when you introduce a second bot, you are reutilizing the same assets with the same application or program. This fuels enterprise scale adoption as a team or functional area and can demonstrate the value of automation to other departments, which will encourage further adoption of the technology.

Pro Tips:

  • Divide your projects into components and create reusable libraries, which makes it easier to reuse automation for further processes
  • When designing the bots, focus on smaller components within them but always keep in mind how this will affect future projects in a positive way

Why are The Three Rs of Automation Discovery so important?

  1. By reimaging your vision, you create a collective, growth oriented and collaborative mindset within the organization as it pertains to digital transformation
  2. The right ROI calculations help you determine which processes will garner better returns both short term and long term
  3. Reusing automations also makes your implementation scalable with faster adoption across teams and departments

Automation is transforming the way we run businesses, transact, and engage in the world. The key to achieving our vision and maximizing the possibilities of technology in our organizations is rooted in having the right approach. And the three Rs in automation is great place to start.

Find out more about enterprise automation, book a meeting with us today to see how we can accelerate your digital transformation journey.

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