The messaging tool that allowed Happy State Bank to take loans online

Happy State Bank normally prides itself on serving its customers personally rather than relying on technological interactions, but times have changed.

With in-person interactions becoming problematic during the pandemic, Amarillo, Texas bank turned to a platform that resembles a text messaging app to collect signatures more efficiently, create new accounts, and speed up processing. Paycheck Protection Program Loan Application Process. .

The coronavirus crisis prompted the $ 3.8 billion asset bank to rely more on digital solutions from Lightico and MANTL to onboard new accounts, fund loans to small businesses and facilitate loan deferrals. At the same time, new technology is causing the bank to rethink how it can better serve its customers in the future.

In October, Happy State, which has 43 branches in northwest Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, rolled out Lightico’s services.

Lightico offers a digital platform that allows businesses to collect forms, electronic signatures and more from customers, as well as verify identity. It sends the customer a link by SMS or e-mail that opens on a secure platform such as messaging.

The bank’s initial goal was to make the multi-party signature collection process more efficient, and then expand it to other business lines, such as lending.

“COVID has accelerated this model a little bit,” said Mark Murray, business systems liaison at the bank.

He said bankers and clients alike turned to the Lightico platform because of its simplicity and resemblance to text messaging.

Once a banker initiates a Lightico session by sending a customer a text or email with a link that opens to messaging, the two can chat, attach documents, and exchange electronic signatures. Rather than scrolling, pinching, and zooming to fill out PDF forms on a smartphone screen, the platform offers fillable forms. Users enter their information in the relevant fields which will fill out the PDF form on the back end.

While there are many electronic signature solutions on the market, Murray prefers Lightico’s platform because of the messaging component. “If you have any questions, everything is contained in this secure messaging platform,” he said. “When the documents are signed, there is an audit trail and everything is stored in our repository. “

One place the bank has converted an old-fashioned process into a more efficient one is in loan deferral.

Each December for the holiday season, Happy State sends letters to its members urging them to defer their loans for that month by returning a form in the mail. As the pandemic escalated, the bank continued in the same vein, but provided a URL where customers could complete and sign an online deferral form to be emailed back to Happy State principals.

The bank also used the Lightico platform to collect documents and signatures and interact with clients requesting PPP loans. She used the software to establish new business accounts. So far, Happy State has facilitated more than 2,700 loans totaling $ 250 million through the program.

The use of Lightico has increased. In February, Happy State hosted a total of 244 sessions on the platform. In March, that number rose to 949 and in April it reached 5,425.

Meanwhile, for basic consumer accounts, Happy State has relied on MANTL’s online account opening software for the past year. Murray said the process takes less than five minutes.

Unlike other platforms, MANTL does not require applicants to take a photo of their driver’s license. Instead, it relies on a know-your-customer engine from fintech company Alloy. Once a client submits a request, Alloy pulls from a long list of data sources (which may include credit bureaus, public record checks, authentication tools, etc.) to review the request. and make a decision in seconds.

Murray said the platform is easier for customers to use and just as good, if not better, at detecting fraud than taking a photo of ID.

Happy State’s satisfaction with Lightico and MANTL inspired Murray to think differently about his approach to technology.

“We know the landscape has changed,” he said. “I know we are going to be more aggressive in adopting new technologies. Even over the next two quarters, that will be one of our top priorities – looking at different ways to create a smoother experience for our customers. ”

At the same time, bank workers are not opposed to an old-fashioned workaround when it is needed.

For example, in branches without drive-thru lanes, some bankers and clients started doing business by sliding forms and documents under the slot in the door, the banker in the lobby and the client outside. .

“We have been very creative,” said Murray.

Janet E. Fishburn