Robotics may not often be associated with banking, but this advanced technology can revolutionise the banking and financial services industry. While many think of robots as futuristic inventions taking over our jobs, the fact is that robotic and automation software is an already widely available technology and can help make banking operational processes faster and more efficient.

Robotic process automation has the potential to change the way everything works. We are not talking about artificially intelligent robots yet, but software tools that can automate operational processes to simplify business and banking services delivery. In banking, most back-end processes that are based on clearly defined rules can be automated. Application processing, card management for clients, advising, changing of basic customer data, approval of mortgages and requests, as well as reporting — all can be completely automated. Processes such as opening/closing of accounts and loan approvals are also excellent candidates for RPA. For example, robots can be programmed to close an account when a client transfers to a new account or leaves the bank completely. Or software can be developed to process online applications to generate loan-confirmation letters faster.

How it works

Let’s say someone would like to apply for a loan. As it is now, the client goes into a bank, waits, applies for the credit and provides some documents. The client gets a pre-confirmation for the loan within a few hours or days, but it can take even longer for the client to actually receive and sign the loan contract. Although a banking specialist is conducting the interviews for loan approvals in person, a computer program is also evaluating the client based on various rules and scores.

Since such a program already exists, the bank could automate much more of the process. Instead of talking to a clerk and providing documents, the client could input the required data on the bank’s website or mobile app, and the system would instantly calculate whether the client is eligible for a loan. In instances where more information is needed, the process could be extended as the bank’s staff conducts an additional review.

Another potential use case for RPA is robo-advisory. A robot can analyse customer information to craft investment advice for clients. Usually, if a client wants to acquire a fund, he or she makes an appointment at the bank to talk to a specialist. If the process is automated, the client can instead go to the bank’s e-shop, talk to the robot-advisor and apply for investment approval instantly from anywhere at any time. The result would be the same, because the bank would use the same processes and methodology tools. The only difference would be that the banking specialist would have a nicer and softer voice. In the same way, robots can approve mortgages, change basic client information in the database, or even issue a replacement for a stolen or lost credit/debit card when the client reports it.

RPA in banking is especially handy when it comes to audits. Robots can help a bank avoid potential mistakes, stay compliant with national and international regulations, and provide audit reports on demand. Automated software also offers an immediate audit trail.

Robotics can rapidly drive digitalisation forward for the banking and capital markets industry. RPA can help reduce costs, increase operational efficiency, optimise resources, as well as improve and accelerate processes overall. And by automating the mundane tasks, banks can assign more meaningful and analytical or creative tasks to their employees. The robots cannot see or think; they can only execute tasks.

In the current disrupted and highly competitive financial market, modern, fast-moving banks should utilise the latest technologies, such as RPA, to connect with customers. A scalable use of automation and artificial intelligence-driven technology will enable financial institutions to provide true digital banking services for modern customers.