Greg Smith: The Truth About Paperless Adoption

Xerox Mortgage Services released a survey on paperless processing technology adoption. What got most of the headlines was that 80% or so of respondents say it will take up to seven years for the industry to be 100% paperless. Are we as an industry that far behind?

Not really. Xerox vice president and general manager Greg Smith has the real facts. What are those facts? He shared them with PROGRESS in Lending Association.[protected]

“There was an up-tick among those that think we’re five years away from being 100% paperless,” said Mr. Smith. “Also, now over 40% think we’ll have 50% paperless adoption inside of five years. If we look back, in 2008 11% of respondents thought it would take over 11 years or more, now that number has dropped to just 2%.”

And without the government intervention, many think adoption would be even greater. “If you look at the role the government has taken that has slowed adoption. If FHA doesn’t accept an e-signature and their market share has increased, how do you even think about going electronic? 50% of the market is FHA and they don’t accept e-signatures.

“If you think about it and you look at surveys that Xerox did prior to 2005, when the market was booming, everyone was really optimistic. In 2008 our financial system was brought to its knees. It was tough times. The point is that the general market is optimistic in good times and not so optimistic in bad times. Despite that the number of people that think paperless is coming within five years continues to increase.”

Regardless, Xerox’s findings are still of interest as the market moves in the paperless direction. “This is something that people are interested in. The biggest change in the survey results was the big increase in the need for compliance technology. Being Web-based was a hot issue but now it’s taken for granted. The other thing that should be noted is that we don’t have a major correspondent lender accepting e-signatures. Once Wells Fargo opens those doors next year everyone will jump on board. Once they act it will have an impact. That combined with the GSEs standardizing will move the paperless path forward.”

What does all this paperless adoption mean for future Xerox surveys? “At some point this will be irrelevant, but it’s still top of mind so we’ll keep the survey going. It matters,” concluded Mr. Smith.[/protected]