Application example: SEB

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Use case: paperless office by SEB Bank


The organization

SEB Bank is one of the two largest Estonian banks. SEB operates as a universal bank with ca thirty offices around Estonia and ca 1000 employees. SEB Bank is owned by the Swedish Enskilda Banken.


During the first stage of the SEB "paperless office" project several SEB offices introduced a possibility to digitally sign different documents (agreements, confirmatons etc) in the office. In such a a case no paper trail is generated and no papers are signed. The client will gain access to the digitally signed documents later via e-mail or internet banking. The long-term perspective is to enable client communication remotely, without a need to visit the physical office, thus economizing time and money for both the client and the bank. For all the "digitized" processes client always has a possibility to prefer and use physical paper. Digitally signed documents are simply a convenient alternative to paper documents. Implementing the project has required long and detailed preparations. SEB bank expects the actual gains to materialize in long term.

Problem statement

The majority of bank transfers in Estonia are conducted via internet banking. At the same time clients are involved in several additional operations: opening and closing accounts, signing agreements, managing retirement funds etc. As a rule, these additional operations involve signing physical documents.

Paper documents are associated with numerous inconveniencies: they tend to get lost, it is nontrivial to manage/archive the documents in a bank and the client must, as a rule, come to bank to sign the documents.

Avoiding paper documents would enable the bank to offer a significant number of service remotely - by Skype, for example - which would be a significant gain to to both the bank and the client. The bank would also economize on the archival procedures.

The goal of the project is to create preconditions and perform the first steps in a wider use of digital documents, minimizing paper documents, archives and office visits.

The solution

In order to gain wider use of digital documents, SEB created a solution enabling easy digital signing for clients, enabling convenient access to the documents, managing and archiving the digital documents.

The focus of the first stage of the solution is to enable clients to give digital signatures to the agreements and other documents while being in a bank office. The process is used to collect feedback and experiences. Users will also gain experience using digital documents. In future the focus will shift more towards remote work and minimizing the need to visit the bank office.

The solution implemented introduces a system for easy digital signing of documents in the bank offices by the bank clients. In addition to the ordinary display used by the bank teller, there is a additional display turned towards the user, through which the user can see the agreement being signed. There is also a pin-pad equipped ID card reader specially for the client.

The whole process in the bank office looks as follows. A client enters her ID card and enters the PIN1 code to authenticate, activating a session. When the user removes her ID card, the session is closed. The client does not fill any form fields in the document: these are filled by the teller. When the document is ready for being signed, a link is created to the file and the client can read the document on the second display turned towards her. There is a confirmation button under the document. When the user pushes the button, the bank teller asks her to enter the PIN2 code, after which the system will create the digitally signed ddoc file. The ddoc file created is then accessible to the client via internet banking. Additionally, it will be emailed to the client in the encrypted form.

About signed files: as a rule, the files contain text "signed digitally" and the SEB bank adds its own digital stamp to the files.

Instead of using PIN1 and PIN2 the client can also choose to use mobile ID. In that case (if the client does not carry an ID card) the bank teller will initially authenticate the client using here passport or driving licence.

The teller software at the bank office is implemented using an internet browser and is for the most part the same software used by the clients for internet banking. Hence clients used to the digital documents in the bank office will have it easier to do similar operations later via internet banking.

During the first phase the paperless office does not cover all the operations performed by the client. It is possible to open an account, change conditions, close an account, deposit and withdraw, confirm client data, etc. During the first phase it is not possible to sign loan agreements and perform several investment operations.

All the operations available in the paperless form can be performed using paper documents: thus cases when the client does not carry an ID card and does not use a mobile ID do not create any inconvenience.

A critial aspect during the implementation of the project is later managament and archiving of the documents. SEB has solved these questions, organizing the document management processes around the client, not the suborganization of a bank, somewhat analogously to typical CRM systems.

The paperless office project is not directly related to the digitally signed documents used internally in the bank. Ordinary, standard software like the ID card software DigiDoc is used for digitally signing internal documents. The standard software covers internal needs and creating a special software system for internal use was not deemed practical.


Paperlesss office was introduced to the first bank offices during 2013. In 2014 the system should be introduced in a wider scale. Bank conducted a thorough preparation and development project before the actual implementation. The whole project started 3 years ago by a team with several members, assisted and consulted by numerous people in SEB.

The main steps of the implementation could be summarized thus:

  • Describing, selecting and analyzing the business processes suitable for the paperless alternative.
  • Analyzing the processes of managing and archiving digital documents.
  • Developing system software both in the browser-based application and back-office.
  • Implementing the system in offices, installing additional displays, card readers, etc.
  • Education and dissemination.

Lessons learned

Implementing the project is a fairly long and large project, closely related to a large number of business processes.

User feedback has been very positive, both in the interviews, questionnaires and direct experiences of bank offices.

The gains are focused on mid- and long-term perspective:

  • Client satisfaction.
  • Increase of remote work when compared to work in bank offices.
  • Decreasing the costs of archive processes.