How Digital Solutions Helped Our Bank Grow Despite the Pandemic

A lack of face-to-face banking was no barrier to success.

COVID-19 slowed many commercial banks to a halt. At Commercial Bank of California, we didn’t accept that as an option. Instead, our team used the pandemic as motivation to accelerate our rollout. Before long, while many of our peers were struggling to adopt technology, we were ahead of the curve with our digital-first approach.

These innovative, technology-based solutions have helped us grow despite the headwinds from the pandemic. In particular, our adoption of paperless banking, partly powered by HORIZON SmartSign digital-signature technology, helped us do business as usual despite the inability to have face-to-face interactions.

Even in an industry as traditional as banking, a digital-first approach was the strategy we needed not just to survive but thrive during COVID-19.

A Paperless Future

The banking industry is going paperless, which entails adopting digital-signature solutions. Papers were a problem for commercial banks as they relied on manual processes, which tend to be slow and prone to human error. Papers also limited how much banks could live up to their tech-savvy customers’ expectations. Going paperless helped our bank solve both problems—and could provide a blueprint for other financial institutions going forward.

Manual signatures were also a problem for commercial banks. Every party involved in a process had to sign the document manually, making operations slow and cumbersome. This also limited access to banking services during the pandemic.

At Commercial Bank of California, we quickly realized that adopting new paperless technologies enabled account executives to overcome geographical and time-based limitations. Our account executives now conduct and close business remotely from anywhere at any time using a range of devices, including their personal smartphones.

Fast Growth Leads to Frictionless Operations

With this digital-signature system, we could do just about everything over email. Our customers can execute documents and send them back without printing anything. They can even provide signatures right on their smartphones.

Clients and employees couldn’t come to the office as before, but that didn’t matter, thanks to this digital signatures. This provided an end-to-end account solution when our customers needed it most.

This solution also saved time and eased work for our back offices. Our primary focus was on making things easy for clients, but our back offices have also seen significant benefits and increased efficiencies since they don’t need to auto index and scan signed documents, streamlining their operations.

The transition to paperless solutions and digital signatures has helped our bank continue growing despite the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, our bank realized tremendous business growth in the period between March 2020 and June 2021. Our operations continued smoothly, and we were able to process our clients’ PPP loan applications quickly. Consequently, we realized a 50% growth in assets, equivalent to $1.6B.

We are setting the pace for the banking industry in Los Angeles and beyond through our new digital solutions. What’s more, leaning into new technology helped the Commercial Bank of California is growing at an impressive rate despite the pandemic. Even in the sometimes staid world of banking, embracing innovation is actually the safest bet.

Ash Patel is the president and CEO of Commercial Bank of California. He also founded the Siksha Foundation, which rebuilds boarding schools in Zambia and India.

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Featured image courtesy Ash Patel.