Svetlana Syrtsova (VTB Bank): Helping small and medium businesses in deed!
Svetlana Syrtsova, Deputy Head of Corporate Digital Business, Vice President of VTB Bank, told B.O (Bankovskoye Obozrenie magazine) about how and why VTB was the first bank in Russia to introduce a qualified mobile digital signature (QDS) for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
— Svetlana, what is the value of the small and medium business segment for VTB? What are the main features that distinguish it in your opinion?
— VTB is a state bank, and one of our priority tasks becomes promoting the development of small and medium-sized businesses in the country. This segment is dynamically growing and developing. Thanks to the support of the regulator, we were able to create competitive banking products for entrepreneurs.
Today, business is immersed in super-dynamic and rich information flows. Customers want to use products on the principle of “all at once, here and now.” We take these points into account and build a comfortable partnership-based ecosystem.
Also among the main requirements for a financial institution serving SMBs, I can mention the real-time banking and the willingness to invest in financial literacy initiatives for customers. The latter is important, because the pace of business prevents you from going into details of, for example, changes in the regulatory framework or of updated guidelines for using services.
— What is the strategy for developing remote services of VTB Bank? What is the role of online services for small businesses in it?
— VTB’s strategy for improving remote services is based on a combination of customer convenience and security. Online bank provides near all financial services for SMB customers, which simplifies the work of entrepreneurs and saves them from visiting bank offices. On the VTB website, you can leave a request to open/reserve an account, use the online business registration service, or connect employees to a payroll plan.
We carefully study new products that appear on the market, monitor startups, work as an accelerator, and participate in specialized conferences. Our goal is to create the most comfortable ecosystem of digital solutions for the convenience and time saving of a customer. For example, the free online business registration service fully complies with all modern ideas about banking services in the digital economy.
VTB was the first in the Russian market to introduce a pilot service in cooperation with SafeTech, where customer can sign business registration documents with a qualified electronic signature on a mobile phone.
— Please tell us about the background of the project. What were the prerequisites? Who was responsible for the project implementation at the Bank?
— Online business registration is a basic need for a modern entrepreneur. The first version of the service was introduced in 2017 during the implementation of VTB’s strategy for providing digital services for SMB. The development of the service was hampered by the need to use complicated software on client computers to generate a qualified digital signature. We needed technologies that would maximally simplify obtaining the tools for QDS generation, minimize processing time, and guarantee secure offline operations. The solution was found in a qualified digital signature generated with a smartphone. In 2018, we updated the online business registration service. For the convenience of entrepreneurs, we added an option to use cloud-based digital signatures. VTB Corporate Digital Business Department acted as a project driver.
— What is the purpose of the project? What tasks were solved during its implementation?
— The main objective of launching the service was to provide a convenient solution for entrepreneurs and legal entities. Customers got the opportunity to significantly reduce the time it takes to generate and send a package of documents, and then to open a bank account. In addition, the most active part of SMBs demands mobility and online support. We are working to ensure that most of our products are available to customers through digital channels. These are our strategic goals.
— What is the technological component of the project? What solutions and technologies were chosen and why? What are their advantages?
— We worked hard to make registration of legal entities easier. We have identified three criteria for choosing solutions and technologies:
- an ability of promptly providing the potential customer with a QDS tool without him visiting the Bank and installing a complex hardware solution;
- ease of integrating the solution into the Bank’s business processes while eliminating the need to integrate the digital signature generation mechanism into information systems;
- and the reduction of financial, organizational, and technical costs compared with common market products.
The technological and organizational basis of digital registration is the CryptoPro myDSS solution. The solution, a joint initiative of CryptoPro and SafeTech, is based on the PayControl mobile authentication and electronic signature platform and CryptoPro DSS technology providing generation of a QDS on a smartphone.
Additionally, the solution integrates services for preparing and sending to the tax authorities a complete set of business incorporating documents. CryptoPro myDSS has 3 main features: 1) the application provides visualization of electronic documents and generates a confirmation for its signing; 2) user legitimacy is guaranteed by the cryptographic authentication and channel protection between the application and the CryptoPro DSS server; 3) digital signature keys of users are stored in non-extractable form. All this provides a sufficient level of security for using the technology on the market.
— What project results have already been attained? What benefits have the Bank’s customers obtained?
— VTB’s online registration service has greatly simplified the online business registration process with the use of modern mobile technologies. On the Bank’s website, an entrepreneur can prepare a necessary set of documents in a simple and user-friendly interface and get a qualified digital signature in the smartphone application, and then authorize the documents with one click and send them to the Federal Tax Service of Russia. The user shall receive confirmation on the successful completion of the registration procedure from the Federal Tax Service by e-mail within three to five business days.
The complete procedure of electronic registration implies only one document signed in paper form: an application for the issuance of a digital signature key certificate. The customer receives it the next day after preparing the documents in the service, after which all other papers are authorized with a cloud-based QDS using the myDSS mobile application on the user’s smartphone. Summing up the first six months of online business registration, we can confidently say that the service is popular.
— Please formulate the main results of implementing the service for the Bank. Have the expectations been met?
— Of course, the results fully met our expectations. We have launched a new online business registration service for entrepreneurs based on an advanced solution providing generation of an electronic signature in the Bank’s mobile application. VTB made it possible for customers to register business online via signing the necessary documents in a smartphone.
The service shows monthly increase in customer base of up to 30%. We are also expanding its geographical coverage: now the online registration is available in 15 large cities with a population of more than 1 million citizens and 9 cities of regional significance in different regions of the country. In the near future, we plan to scale the service to all cities having VTB branches.
The newly introduced service proves that the most daring business ideas are absolutely achievable and depend on the entrepreneur himself. And the Bank is ready to offer its customers the best solutions stimulating their business development. It is important to note that most of the businesses registered through the VTB service open their accounts with us.
— What are the perspectives for the remote banking system further development upon the project implementation? What opportunities does this create for the Bank? What are the further development plans?
— The Bank plans to expand the entire range of services. VTB has already launched a cloud-based digital signature service for business documents for users of the VTB Business Online Lite online banking. Among the advantages of the new service is an increase in the limit of online operations and the ability to sign documents even offline.
Our immediate tasks include release of a mobile version of the online business registration service, integration of additional corporate non-banking and non-financial services for legal entities. We also plan the development of insurance services, digital interaction with government services (in particular, with the Federal Registration Service, Federal Tax Service), and other remote services.