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eStatements to Online Customers-Signing Up

We currently offer eStatements to our online customers but have a very low adoption rate. We seem to be running into issues with getting customers signed up because we cannot assist them at the bank unless it is on their own device. Being compliant with the E-Sign Act says the customer must "reasonably demonstrate that they can access information in the electronic form that will be used to provide the information that is the subject of the content". What is the way around this so that we can get them signed up at account opening or by utilizing a lobby computer? I know of other institutions that do this but am not finding how that is in compliance. Any help would be appreciated!

by Richard Insley:

This isn't something you should try to "get around." Demonstrable consent is part of the ESIGN act for the document sender's protection as well as the recipient's. When you take a "hands off" approach to the demonstration, you effectively prevent "...but I never got it" disputes with customers who should have read the documents you sent them, but didn't.

You can't assist customers with the official act of consent--just like you can't hold their hands and help them sign notes and account agreements. That doesn't mean you can't coach them.

We went through the same agonizingly slow adoption rate when we rolled out ATMs. Finally, our industry realized that telling customers how to use the machines was insufficient--we had to show them. Adoption rates increased dramatically when CSRs got up from their desks, took the customer by the hand, walked outside to the ATM, and used a card for a demo account to provide one-on-one training. The extra effort paid off then and it can pay off with e-delivery of documents.

You can execute a contingent service agreement at the bank and also do a dry run of the exact sequence of events the customer will experience when s/he gets home. Let the customer see what the "invitation to sign up" screen, email, etc. will look like and show him/her what to click/do in order to complete the opt-in. You can even obtain "consent, subject to demonstrable confirmation" in the bank--on paper, if you want. If you set up your consent system as a two-phase process (consent now and confirm later), it should look like software that is sold with "key codes." The sale is completed, but delivery of the product is not consummated until the purchaser enters a valid key code into an electronic system.

Experience is showing that some combination of carrot and stick is necessary to improve adoption rates for bank e-statements and other e-deliveries. If you create sufficient pricing differential between the two classes of service, you will achieve your business goal (cost reduction) by either the front door (higher adoption rates) or the back door (cost offset via increased fee revenue.)


by John Burnett:

Thank you, Richard, for providing yet another valuable piece of guidance on how banks can use the E-SIGN Act to deliver legally sufficient electronic records to consumers, including e-statements, e-disclosures, e-notices and other electronic renderings of documents that federal laws or regulations require to be delivered "in writing."

First published on 05/05/2019

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