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Paper statements: an expensive habit

Britain’s banking industry has a paper problem. According to research by high street bank TSB, three quarters (75 per cent) of Brits claim their day-to-day use of paper for things like letters, postcards, reading and research materials is becoming redundant. Despite this, British banking customers still receive more than 1.2 billion paper letters and statements from their bank each year, according to our recent survey.

To put that into perspective, that’s nearly 40,000 tons of paper. In fact, if stacked on top of each other, the letters would equal 6,200 times the height of The Shard in London, 437,500 stacked double-decker buses or the equivalent weight of 200 blue whales.

The British Banker’s Association (BBA) recently revealed that mobile and online banking transactions have reached almost £1billion every day, highlighting a transformation in the way customers access banking services. So why, in spite of these figures, do customers continue to receive such a vast amount of paper communications?

The continued need for paper statements as a form of formal identification appears to be the most pressing factor. According to our research, two thirds (66 per cent) of UK banking customers still opt in to receive paper statements as they are still needed to open bank accounts, apply for mortgages and set up mobile phone accounts.

Those who have opted to go completely digital are expected to pay up to £5 per hard copy requested, for something that we at Intelligent Environments believe should be free. We see no reason why online statements shouldn’t be exact replicas of the paper statements customers previously received in the post, available for customers to download, print and use for identification whenever and wherever they need them.

There are multiple benefits of providing digital-only statements for banks, as well as for customers. Not only would convincing customers to review all transactions online have significant environmental benefits, but it could also save UK banks £243m on stationery alone.

Paperless banking is the most logical solution for everyone involved. It creates lower costs for banks, less junk mail for customers, while considerably reducing the environmental impact of money management. UK banks need to inspire customers to change their habits by raising awareness of going paperless, as well as the associated benefits.





Comments: (5)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 24 June, 2015, 16:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Email is not suitable for bills and statements:

How Suitable Is Email For Delivering Bills And Statements?

Service providers, including banks, may save pennies in cost, but potentially lose millions in revenues, by going paperless with their bills and statements:

Save Costs But Lose Revenues With eBills And eStatements

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 June, 2015, 11:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@Ketharaman: To my knowledge, no significant retail bank in the UK uses email as a transport for paperless statements. And using paper statements to carry ads for pizzas might be a missed commercial opportunity but would be a poor customer experience.

However, since online banking presents an up-to-date transaction history, why do we even need to send statements at all, whether paper or digital? The customer can create their own as needed. So, let's just stop doing this altogether.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 25 June, 2015, 13:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


I've seen several posts on Finextra from more than one person from a company that provides eBilling solutions via email. One of them might want to comment about why PUSH-based ebills delivered via email are better than PULL-based ebills downloaded via website. Personally, for reasons given in my posts, I’m not fond of either form of ebill and like my paper bills delivered via snail mail.

Why just ads for pizzas on paper bills? Many consumers I know find ads for *anything* *anywhere* to deliver poor CX. But that hasn't stopped advertisers from clamoring for more and more intrusive forms of advertising, with their latest craze being Twitter and Facebook video ad units that play automatically - the user doesn't even have a choice of not clicking the PLAY button. So, poor CX didn't stop advertisers before, it won't stop them now. And, when advertisers are willing to pay media owners for displaying ads, I know very few media owners who will put CX above revenues and decline the money.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 June, 2015, 13:49Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Well we might refuse it - simply because this blog post has spurred me to try and get the ball rolling on stopping sending e-statements altogether!

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 30 June, 2015, 10:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Sending paper statements is an unnecessary cost that adds no value to customer or the bank. Furthermore, once the post goes into the post bag, you have no idea where it' is? It's takes 2-5 days to deliver, without any confirmation and costs upwards of £0.40 per unit. Versus instant electronic mail, with a full audit trail on receipt and opening with Mi and minimal cost, using the same channel that the customer used to apply for the product. It's not a hard concept and we've been using it with banks and FI's for years. This is inertia, overtaking innovation!