Supercharge the Credit Card Application Process

by Tony Barbeau | 12/14/15

Faster is better, right? That’s generally the case in financial services, especially when it comes to opening new accounts, and issuing new consumer credit cards is no exception. The faster consumers start using their new cards, the quicker the bank or other card issuer can start making money.

But faster alone isn’t enough. Any new solution enhancing the document-heavy credit card sign-up process must also understand — and help transform — legacy data management processes, reduce overall costs, and deliver an impeccable customer experience. Faster is better, yes. But faster while improving revenue, cutting costs, and creating happier customers is ideal.

The Credit Card World Has Changed 

The economic turbulence of the 2009 global recession led regulators to limit fees and interest rates,¹ which in turn squeezed card issuer profits. Although consumer credit levels are on the upswing once again after years in decline,² changes in technology — including the emergence of new mobile wallet, payment and app competitors — have contributed to a seismic shift. The result: Retail banking revenue is at risk. Just 16 percent of banking executives think retail banking will be a primary source of revenue by 2020. That compares with 35 percent in 2015.³

Financial Services IT Is Evolving As Well

In response to these competitive drivers, the marching orders for retail banks are clear. They must reduce costs, seek new sources of revenue, improve and reprioritize the customer experience, and improve the scalability and flexibility of their technology. Much of that work falls on bank IT departments.

A Key Step: Improving Credit Card Sign-up Agility

When evaluating possible bank IT projects, legacy credit card sign-up processes stand out as an area in much need of improvement. Sign-up systems typically are document-heavy and highly reliant on manual processes, making them slow, unwieldy and error-prone.

Moving to the very latest data capture, image processing and scanning technologies to enhance credit card sign-ups can yield significant benefits, including:

  • Automating the credit card application process as much as possible
  • Speeding up the process while also lowering the risk of an inadvertent approval
  • Creating an approval system that can process many different document types (application forms, contracts, etc.)
  • Enabling different types of credit application workflows by automating the transfer of document-based information between banks, credit bureaus and credit card companies.

Adopting new solutions doesn’t have to be painful or expensive. For example, browser-based applications can greatly simplify a bank’s infrastructure. Many browser applications have benefits that can apply to scanning software, allowing IT departments to maintain applications at the server level. Applications such as OCR can be centrally managed or moved to third-party cloud providers for more cost effective support, to reduce CPU and memory demands, in a hybrid or full cloud solution. And browser-based capture can be integrated with Line of Business (LOB) software with a simple “scan button” embedded into an application. This way employees don’t have to know anything about the capture software; the button simply allows documents and information to be scanned directly into the business application, saving both time and training costs.

The larger business benefits are also clear. The credit card application process cycle time can be reduced from an average six days to just two, significantly improving the productivity of financial staff while getting cards to consumers much more quickly. These changes impact two priorities for retail banks today: improving customer satisfaction and increasing revenue.

Organizations that don’t adapt their processes will continue to lag behind their more innovative competitors. And in today’s competitive retail banking landscape, lagging behind is not an option.

Tony Barbeau is Products & Services general manager and vice president, Information Management division, Kodak Alaris, which offers more information about accelerating customer onboarding with new ECM tools here.


¹ “CARD Act Factsheet,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 2011
² “Consumer Credit Outstanding,” Federal Reserve, June 5, 2015
³ “Bankers across the globe expect major tech companies to cut into their retail banking business,” Business Insider, March 18, 2015