Robotic Process Automation (also known as RPA) refers to the use of software robots (or virtual assistants or digital workers), which are programmed to complete repetitive and labor-intensive tasks, including sending emails and opening applications and copy-pasting information from one banking system to another.
With the help of RPA, human employees can focus on more complex banking operations work, human interaction, and decision-making. Established banking institutions have historically relied on multiple legacy core systems, and the operational benefits were typically oversold at the time of the acquisition, which resulted in large amounts of manual work between multiple core banking systems to reconcile and transcribe data to process transactions or merge different legacy systems into a coherent workflow.
RPA in banking use cases applies to a wide range of processes, including retail branch processes, commercial lending, consumer lending, loan processing, underwriting, and anti-money-laundering, to name a few.
BNY Mellon, as of 2017, reportedly had 250 bots in production to streamline the firm's trade-settlement procedures. Tasks include clearing trades, conducting order research, and resolving discrepancies. For example, a procedure to reconcile a failed trade was performed in a quarter of a second instead of a manual time of 5-10 minutes. Other RPA benefits included an 88-percent improvement in transaction-processing times and account-closure validations—across five different systems—with an impeccable accuracy rate of 100 percent.
CB&S Bank (Alabama) has used RPA after purchasing several branches had amassed an additional 20,000 customer accounts and 2,500 loans—all of which needed to be moved into the core banking system. RPA enabled CB&S to load and fund 25 to 40 lines of credit and close and add addendums to 40 to 50 accounts per week.
SunTrust (Atlanta) has implemented Robotic Desktop Automation in payment-operations areas such as Consumer Bank Cards, Wires, and ACH. The bank noted that average transaction speed improved 3.8x, average training time improved 4x, and the average error rate was reduced by an impressive 65 percent.
Deutsche Bank has launched robo-advisers in the asset management business and in the Private & Commercial Bank by using algorithms to compile a suitable portfolio for their clients. They have utilized robotics and artificial intelligence to automate previously manual processes to minimize errors and lower costs.
Danske Bank (Europe) has an automated customer account onboarding process. Another example is the integration of RPA in the process of closing accounts for customers selling a home.
According to BB&T's 2017 report, the bank listed "robotics" among eight initiatives to improve its profitability.