For generations, it was mandatory that opening a bank account required a mountain of paperwork. This was to satisfy a number of different obligations, from the bank’s need to maintain proper records to helping the government control potential money-laundering activity. Even after the account was open, there was still a constant flow of paperwork to complete almost any transaction. This is no longer the case, in some instances, and the transition away from paper and to digital is occurring quickly. Jason Simon, a FinTech expert who has provided consultation assistance for a number of financial institutions around the world, predicts that paperless banking will be the future.

The move away from mandatory paper trails has already begun and there are a number of banking institutions that offer incentives to customers that help reduce the dependency on paper receipts. The transition to digital goes well beyond that, though, and includes a completely digital solution that also encompasses the use of virtual money. Explains Simon, “It is now possible to pay for almost everything virtually, whether it be through an online shopping experience or a digital payments solution, such as Samsung Pay, that allows consumers to simply swipe a smartwatch to complete a transaction.”

Some banks have gone completely digital and don’t have a physical presence, a further indication of the transition to virtual banking. DBS Bank is one of these, creating a completely digital bank that it bills as “intelligent, intuitive and invisible.” It has no physical branches, no paper and no waiting, relying on two mobile applications that allow account holders to manage every aspect of the banking experience. It is even possible, as regulations continue to adjust to the rise in digital solutions, to open an account and submit all the necessary identification requirements virtually, complying with financial regulations established by FinCEN (the Financial Crime Enforcement Network).

DBS, and other banks like it, gives account holders the ability to manage every aspect of their financial activity online. Adds Simon, “These digital, branchless banks have become popular because they provide all of the services customers expect to find at a physical bank. They can connect their checking and savings accounts to their IRAs and money market accounts, and more. These options give consumers greater control over their funds and allow them to manage their financial assets no matter where they are in the world, as well as at any time of the day.”

These digital banks are more than just a simple banking solution that isn’t backed by the financial community. In the case of DBS, its digital bank, which it calls DBS digibanking, has won several awards, including the Global Finance Award 2020, Best Consumer Digital Bank, Most Innovative Digital Bank (Asia Pacific) and Best Integrated Consumer Bank Site (Asia Pacific). As the trend toward more digital finance opportunities continues to gain momentum, there will be other solutions entering the market, as well, which will increase the competitive environment and lead to more innovation.

“What we’re witnessing now,” asserts Simon, “is just the beginning of what’s to come. There is no doubt that, over the next several years, there will be a greater push for more digital banking solutions. It’s very possible, when we look ten to 15 years into the future, that digital banking is commanding a vast majority of the financial industry, with physical banks relegated to only a small corner. That corner will be for transactions of a more sensitive nature or for those select individuals who still rely on physical banks for safe deposit boxes and secure storage. Overall, however, digital banking is going to become the norm.”