In an increasingly digital world the banking sector has seemed slow to embrace the benefits of paperless communications. There are a number of reasons for this, but this also doesn’t mean there isn’t the opportunity for them to do so. Here’s why paperless banking is nothing short of revolutionary.
It’s estimated that UK banking customers receive nearly 40,000 tonnes of paper from banks each year. Stack them up, and you’d see a pile 6,200 times the height of the Shard or the height of a staggering 437,500 double-decker buses. Weigh them, and you’d have the equivalent of 200 blue whales. And that’s just from banks alone. Imagine if you were to include the letters sent by utility firms or telcos providers on top of that…
(Let’s not mention the takeaway menus)
This week, HSBC has pledged $100bn of finance for low carbon technology and sustainable development. The bank has long placed an emphasis on sustainability, and follows a similar commitment from JP Morgan Chase in July to provide $200bn of finance for clean energy projects by 2025.
The trend towards more environmentally friendly business processes is gathering pace. Across sectors, organisations are increasingly recognising the shared corporate responsibility to minimise environmental footprints. Companies are increasingly finding innovative ways to implement environmentally friendly processes, often while simultaneously improving customer experience and efficiency, as well as reducing costs. The inception of digital document portals are a prime example of this and have propelled organisations forward into the midst of a paperless revolution. In fact, just last month NatWest introduced the UK’s first paperless mortgage.
Of course, the benefits of paperless banking are many. Mail delays caused by postage can be eliminated, and organisations don’t have to hire staff to process paperwork. Productivity improves by 39% when paper forms are replaced by electronic versions. In fact, it’s estimated UK banks could save £243m on stationery alone.
However, it should not be forgotten that going paperless in the new era of sustainability can have huge environmental benefits. Paper consumption is one of the most direct and visible impacts to the environment made in corporate offices. Standard Chartered estimate that every 400 reams of A4 paper equates to;
- 24.29 trees
- ½ annual average US household energy usage
- ½ annual average emission produced by a car
While progress has been made in terms of digitalising paper-heavy processes, it is clear that here is more that can be done. In an UK survey of 2,000 people, 65% said they had a digital bank account, and yet 79.5% still opt in to receive additional paper statements. The situation is similar in the USA, with only 17% of corporate clients at TD bank signed up to paperless accounts in 2016.
Historically, there have been a number of reasons why progress has been hampered: corporate inertia, wariness to change, costly IT requirements, out-of-date infrastructure, and incompatible systems are some of the reasons organisations have hung onto traditional paper processes.
This is why HSBC’s announcement this week is so exciting. It is yet another sign that organisations are starting to tackle these obstacles head on. So, the question is how close are you to joining the paperless revolution?
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