Capitec, South Africa’s largest digital bank, has taken the final step in its paperless journey with the introduction of an eSignature capability, by means of a biometric fingerprint.

In a time of COVID-19 and social distancing, this is a crucial move to ramp up convenience and help keep South Africans safe. Biometric readers allow for sanitisation after each client’s use, while paper documents cannot be easily disinfected between parties.

Wim de Bruyn, Executive: Business Development and Technology at Capitec, says: “We’re constantly challenging the norm, helping our clients to live better through smarter, simpler banking. Our transition to paperless banking is in line with this, offering our clients improved convenience in the form of faster service times and simpler processes. We will extend this capability to facial biometrics later this year, allowing our clients to eSign documents from anywhere, 24/7 on our banking app.”

Capitec is the first South African bank to introduce a legally compliant eSignature, which means it complies with Section 13 of the South African Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act of 2002, in that:

  1. The electronic signature used is able to identify the signatory
  2. The signatory is indicating their approval by applying their electronic signature
  3. The method of capturing the signature is appropriately reliable under the circumstances under which the document is signed

Clients will be enrolled for the new eSignature solution as they make use of a Capitec branch.

The benefits of an eSignature capability include:

  • Client security: A robust electronic identity is established by linking the client’s ID, photo and fingerprints, backed up by a secure, tamper-proof audit trail and the enabling of a multifactor client authentication each time the client interacts with Capitec
  • Less paperwork: Clients will not be burdened with paperwork in branches, but can accept an agreement on screen by having their fingerprint scanned by the biometric reader
  • Efficiency: Quick service time means more focus on value-adding experiences for clients, rather than time consuming manual activities like printing, filing and signing documents with a handwritten signature
  • Environmental: It’s good for the environment as it not only saves paper but toner too.
  • Safety of documents: Secure, tamper-evident storage of electronically signed documents and retrieval mechanisms this reduces the cost associated with losing documents

Milestones in Capitec’s history:

2007: First bank to implement fingerprint biometrics used for identification and approval of transactions

2013: Introduced electronic document management capabilities – dual process of signing agreements (handwritten signature and biometric fingerprint scan)

2015: First bank to employ real-time integration with the Department of Home Affairs to verify fingerprint biometrics with their database

2020: First bank to integrate legally compliant eSignature bank-wide

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