Paperless: that’s the buzzword for document and customer communication processes. It applies to all sectors, and the Banking and Finance industry is no exception.
In this industry, it can be said that the issues are even more delicate and crucial, and that the steps forward are increasingly accelerated.
In this regard, there are updates that are strictly topical and which will certainly have an important impact in the long run.
We’re referring to Directive (EU) 2021/338 (full text here), known as the “Quick Fix,” which is part of the more general (and long-awaited) reform of the MiFID II directive (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive).
The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive regulates financial markets in the European Union. It first came into force in 2018. It’s no coincidence that the drafting of the Quick Fix directive dates back to 2021. Amidst Covid, this is when we were just beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. On the one hand, being able to activate digital procedures had become more urgent than ever before, starting with the dematerialization of documents. At the same time, it was necessary to reduce some outdated bureaucratic burdens and to aim for digitization that would be both complete and mature, in order to support the first solid signs of economic recovery.
So, what does the Quick Fix directive contain?
We’ll start by looking at the key elements.
Next, we will move on to the planned timetable for implementation (we are practically already at the first milestones).
Finally, we will narrow our focus to a specific issue raised in the directive: that of ERDSs (Electronic Registered Delivery Services) for investor communications. What are they? What benefits and opportunities do they offer?
Quick Fix Directive – what it contains
The Italian implementation of the Quick Fix directive (which affects all EU countries) dates back to Legislative Decree No. 31 of March 10, 2023 (published in the Official Gazette of March 24, 2023).
There are many areas involved.
But the most important changes being introduced with this update concern how financial intermediaries are required to provide disclosures to their clients.
The key words are: simplification, digitization, flexibility, and security.
In practice: all information on investment services provided by banks and financial intermediaries can and should be provided to customers in electronic format (except in specific cases).
So, which communications become digital with the Quick Fix directive?
– Pre-contractual disclosures related to investment services
– The disclosures prior to individual transactions in financial instruments
– The disclosures following individual transactions
– Periodic reporting
Given these changes, what does this mean for companies and what are the benefits it offers?
Let’s be very clear: we’re talking about a large set of advantages and benefits, that reinforce each other in a systematic way.
These are the benefits related to moving away from paper documents and in favor of digital ones.
– Savings in time and money (for both the company and the customer)
– Extreme ease of sharing (just think of the burdens and costs related printing and mailing communications)
– Improved efficiency, even when it comes to searching for individual data within a communication (this process is slow and cumbersome with paper documents, of course)
– Lower environmental impact (an aspect that is the focus of an increasingly large segment of customers)
– Drastically reduced risks of loss, wear and tear, compilation errors, and tampering of any kind
– Increased transparency
– Increased security and confidentiality in transmission and storage—an absolutely crucial point when it comes to banking and finance
– Increased protections in case of legal disputes
(These last two points, in particular, have much to do with the topic of ERDSs, which we will focus on shortly below.)
Also, here is an important specification: the guidance in the Quick Fix directive applies to all types of clients, from “retail” to “professional clients,” to “eligible counterparties.” Beware, however, of these differentiators:
– For professional clients and eligible counterparties, the switch to electronic disclosure arrangements is automatic
– On the other hand, retail clients can exercise an “opt-in,” choosing to continue to receive communications in paper format (which must always be provided free of charge).
Quick Fix Directive – the roadmap
So, with the Quick Fix directive, the shift from paper to electronic disclosures has been accelerated in the form of a general paradigm shift that points toward paperless communication and document flows.
What is the timeframe?
– The first step is already behind us: by August 6, banks and financial intermediaries had to inform their retail customers about the specifics of the new processes that the directive introduces. Please note: this refers to existing customers as of April 8, 2023.
– Customers have 8 weeks from when they receive the notice to exercise their eventual opt-in, choosing to remain in a paperless mailing regime. If this option is not exercised, they automatically switch to paperless mode.
– For new customers (i.e., those who became customers after April 8, 2023), information about the switchover must be given at the earliest opportunity and in any case no later than 120 days after the rule comes into force.
ERDS within the Quick Fix Directive
First, let’s start by unraveling the acronym: what is ERDS?
Electronic Registered Delivery Services or ERDS, are described in the European eIDAS regulation as services that “enable the transmission of data between third parties by electronic means and provide evidence regarding the processing of the transmitted data, including evidence that the data has been sent and received, and protect the transmitted data from the risk of loss, theft, damage, or unauthorized modification.”
More specifically, there are both ERDS and QERDSs (Qualified Electronic Registered Delivery Services), which are framed in Articles 43 and 44 of the eIDAS Regulation.
We will not dwell on the various operational and regulatory aspects at this time. You can find more information about these aspects in this post on our blog.
However, we want to emphasize a central aspect.
With the new Quick Fix directive, ERDS are a key and indispensable tool for intermediaries.
It’s very simple: because they transform the communications that we’re used to (such as ordinary emails but also SMS) into registered addresses, which can certify the delivery and receipt of messages (even in the case of multiple recipients).
To put it another way: these communications are transformed into documentary evidence, with increased legal value.
The benefits and opportunities of Doxee’s ERDS services
There are three different types of electronic registered delivery solutions offered by Doxee:
– Certified emails, which provide proof of the content of messages, the exact time they are sent to the recipient’s mailbox, and the time they are received.
– Certified SMS: a great way to send certified communications through a very familiar and immediate mode for recipients.
– e-Reception: a tool to certify the delivery and opening of documents by issuing documentary evidence. In practice, the recipient receives an email or SMS that contains an access link to the documents intended for them. This step makes it possible to collect and track the recipient’s access to the documents through a personalized link. As a result, the sender receives documentary evidence certifying that the document has been sent, received, and opened.
Of course, the first and most direct benefits of adopting electronic delivery services concern all the aspects we have already mentioned above regarding electronic communications: cost and time savings, increased security, confidentiality, and legal and evidentiary value.
Beware, however! That’s not all. There are only the direct benefits.
Perhaps even more important are the indirect opportunities and benefits that open up by implementing electronic delivery services.
Such opportunities and benefits have to do with a concept that organizations must keep in mind: integration.
What are we talking about?
We’re talking about the integration of registered delivery systems with all the mechanisms and processes that characterize a digitally mature business.
It’s a holistic vision that aims, first of all, at improving the User Experience, which— in this way—becomes more fluid, smart, and in step with the times.
And we know the importance of the User Experience in terms of loyalty and lowering the Churn Rate.
Not only that, by moving to a paperless, omnichannel communication and archiving system, you have the ability to access an invaluable treasure trove of data about your customers.
Leaning on Registered Electronic Delivery tools such as Doxee’s allows you to manage this enormous amount of information easily and in a comprehensive way.
The final step is quickly stated: improving the knowledge of your customers means having the opportunity to continuously improve your communications, making them more and more tailored to the recipients, thus increasingly effective and personalized.
It’s a real virtuous circle that goes far beyond mere legislative compliance.