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The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: June 2008

Writing the digital future

1 June 2008

The business environment of regulation, governance and consumer protection is fairly rigorous in South Africa, especially when it comes to our relatively sophisticated financial services industries. But those industries - banking, insurance, home loans and vehicle finance are among the most important sectors for SA consumers - rely on expensive and time-consuming paper-based processes in order to ensure that they are compliant with legislation and industry controls.
On top of these process complexities, many SA consumers - especially at the lower end of the economic spectrum and in non-urban areas - are either not exposed to digital technologies, or are mistrustful of technological process solutions. When it comes to lending money from institutions the sense of consumer apprehension is only heightened.
Now a new technology being rolled out in several financial services industries combines the oldest recording technology of all - pen and paper - with digital telecommunication solutions to radically improve process efficiencies and slash the time taken by the filling in and processing of forms in these industries.
The Digital Pen and Paper (DPP) solution by Comcorp Solutions, offers time and cost benefits to customers, both in tangible, measurable ways and in less tangible areas such as accuracy of data capture. In addition to offering a digital solution to the process complexities in form-based industries, it offers a means to bring technology benefits to the most outlying areas of the country - thus empowering both rural customers and the field agents who serve them.
The DPP works like this: the pen has a normal ball point cartridge combined with an infrared camera, processor, memory chip, battery and Bluetooth communications device. When you write on the associated digital paper with the pen, the camera records the movement of the pen over the paper and this is stored on the memory chip. Once the document is complete, simply by ticking the Send box at the bottom of the page, the document is encrypted and transmitted via Bluetooth to a cellular phone that has been paired to the pen.
The recorded information can then be transmitted instantly via GPRS to any computer system, where the information can be processed.
The various forms of financial services industry legislation demand an original signature on application forms and the customer's signed authority to check their credit record. The DPP provides a hardcopy ink-based signature and captures the application digitally for processing instantly from any remote location.
Says Comcorp Solutions' CEO, Malcolm Lobban, "Among its many advantages, especially in a 'mixed-economy' market like SA's, is the fact that using the pen is simple, and writing is a skill which almost everybody possesses. This means that we can roll out the solution quickly and the conventional barriers of up skilling and material hardware and software costs associated with mass deployment of new technology within an organisation are substantially reduced.
For more information contact Carolina Guozden, TerraNova Strategic PR, +27 (0)11 463 5713, carolina@tnova.co.za


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