Fraud Prevention Month: It’s Time to Turf Paper Applications

Why Digital Is The Future And Paper Is The Past Life Of Credit Card Applications

It is common knowledge in the financial industry that there is an unacceptably high degree of risk attached to a process involving paper credit card applications. While industries everywhere are striving towards achieving excellence in business process optimization and standardization, very few companies can confidently state they have the required standards and protections in place when hard copies of consumer data could be floating around. It would naturally be impossible to state that a paper credit card application could never end up in the hands of a single individual with bad intentions, or could never be mislaid or copied without the ability to trace it.

The risk of exposure to data loss and consumer protection legislation penalties is substantially increased when sensitive financial and consumer data is recorded or documented on paper in any part of any business process. In comparison, there is such a multitude of in-built and standardized safeguards to protect digital documentation – especially with electronic credit card application solutions such as those IA360 provide – that it no longer makes sense for companies to bear this risk any longer, considering the potential impacts to your public reputation, consumer loyalty scores, legal exposure, risk to the share price and more.

Electronic credit card applications have a plethora of balance sheet boosting benefits which ensure a tangible financial return on investment, as well as a far reduced risk exposure and a significant improvement in the ability to reach industry standards in business process management while meeting the required regulations.

Benefits of Electronic Credit Card Applications

  1. Significant Reduction in Fraud

When a paper trail exists in credit card applications, it is extremely hard to account for the whereabouts of the paper applications at any given time, and to ensure that only employees with the most appropriate security clearance have access to this data. Records can be memorized, copied, written down; application forms can be put into containers which can be removed – even locked drawers can be opened. In contrast, electronic credit card applications are surrounded by a digital security fortress: authentication of employees with the correct level of security clearance is built in at the application level, firewalls prevent external cyber attacks, USB security can be configured at the machine level to prevent illegal downloads, mail servers can be configured to block digital sharing, and audit trails can be configured in the application to record who accessed, entered, changed or removed data.

All of these strategies significantly reduce the risk of credit card applications being mislaid, stolen and inappropriately shared. This reduces fraud massively. Global credit card and debit card fraud resulted in losses amounting to $21.84 billion during 2015. Card issuers and merchants incurred 72% and 28% of those losses respectively according to the Nilson report. A part of the solution for financial institutions is to strengthen their security and reduce their losses by implementing an electronic application solution.

  1. Cost Savings and increased Revenue in Application Processing Times.

Operational expenditure is a huge concern for companies looking to increase their net profits and improve their cash flow. Paper-based credit card applications lead to convoluted business processes and costly latencies in getting credit card customers set up and using their new card. As the enthusiasm or desire to use the card wanes while the customer waits 2 weeks or even a month to receive the card in the post because of behind-the-scenes administration and bureaucracy, the financial institution is losing money on two fronts; in the productivity and overhead costs in getting the paper form through all the necessary channels and in the loss of revenue the card could be earning for the company during this time. The final blow comes when the customer has already bought that desired purchase through other means by the time the card arrives and the card ends up left in a kitchen drawer or at the bottom of the wallet.

Companies that offer electronic credit card application can lower their operational expenditure with faster, more streamlined digital processes and even instant issuance is possible, getting the card activated and revenue generation underway far faster. This can have a real tangible effect on revenue and profit, giving companies more money to invest elsewhere.

  1. Improvements in Integrity of Data

In this era of Big Data and valuable Data Lakes, integrity of consumer data is crucial to several business activities. Data swamps rather than lakes cost a company money – as illegible handwriting, errors in form processing by hand and transfer of data to digital format takes place by staff all leading to a normal yet costly margin of human error. Electronic application forms cut out this margin of error by only accepting application forms that are legible and clear. This saves the company time in application form returns and on the admin overhead costs associated with this manual processing and error handling. On top of this, companies don’t waste money on reporting on customer records that are littered with errors, on marketing activities that can be skewed by erroneous records (and even place them in the sights of the financial regulator), and on training in manual application processing. An added benefit of electronic credit card application processing is that it standardizes quality control and takes the dependency off error prone staff.

  1. Logistical Cost Savings

A very practical, but oft-forgotten benefit of an electronic credit card application is the cost saving in stationery, postage, faxing and copying expenses for a company. Not to mention the effect of all of that paper on the environment. Consumers are much aware and concerned about impacts on the environment than ever before.  Therefore, a two-fold benefit exists for companies who can cut down on their environmental impact by moving to digital processing, and save money in the process.


There is no doubt about the fact that in the short and long term, the benefits of electronic credit card applications far outweigh the benefits of a paper based application process in terms of cost savings, increases in revenue, lowering the human margin of error, negating data errors, improving fraud exposure, improving risk exposure and improving environmental impacts. IA360 is proud to be one of Canada’s top providers of an electronic credit card application and instant issuance solution which has had transformative benefits for our clients, and created a paradigm shift in the financial industry. Consumers are demanding digital experiences which facilitate and empower them in their lives while keeping their data secure, and an electronic credit card solution has become a new consumer norm which is not only now expected but demanded.

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