DocuSign, with Visa, Aims to Take Paper Out of Payments Worldwide

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There's still a lot of paper used in transactions, and document automation company DocuSign's scaling up in an attempt to grab a share of paper-reducing efforts in several markets.

"Our enemy is paper and we're looking to change the way people make payments globally," says Mike Dinsdale, CFO of DocuSign.

San Francisco-based DocuSign sells technology that digitizes traditionally paper-based business processes by storing and delivering documents via a cloud server. The company hopes to leverage an investment from Visa to offer document automation for payment systems, using Visa's scale to power larger projects in more markets.

"We have a similarity with Visa. Their enemy is cash," Dinsdale says. "There's an enormous amount of paper out there that can be automated."

DocuSign's paper automation processes match the kind of documents that accompany consumer or business payments. It collects email addresses for parties receiving documents and creates fields for digital signatures. The technology also supports document tracking and other management tools. DocuSign offers services to individual and corporate users, with pricing based on volume.

The company already does business in about 180 countries and has clients in financial services, wealth management and other verticals, and recently opened an office Sydney, Australia to manage business in the Asia Pacific region. The opportunities there include Vietnam, which is in the midst of a national paper-reduction initiative.

DocuSign will be able to tap into Visa's global roster of partners and clients to fuel its activities different countries, as well as grab more share of the payments operations of both companies' clients. The two companies will also jointly develop digital processing and paper-reduction strategies.

"Visa has a global network that is seamless. It works everywhere, and that's like a blueprint as we build out a global network," Dinsdale says.

A number of companies are pursuing strategies to take paper out of processing, and the actual payment itself. Liberty Bank, a financial institution in the Chicago area, is offering a paperless debit account to mostly younger consumers.

Deluxe Corp. recently released an iPhone app that allows users to send checks without using ink and paper. Another company, IQ Back Office, tries to speed accounts payable processes by setting up a virtual MasterCard program to replace petty cash and other paper-based business processes.

Similar to DocuSign, Tradeshift uses a cloud-based platform to connect companies to execute digital business-to-business payments. And in the health care space, Creditron recently combined its virtual lockbox platform with MediStreams' health care payment processing technology.

These companies are pursuing a substantial amount of paper-based payments. About 50% of companies are still using paper-based processes for payments, according to research commissioned by ASG Software Solutions.

And there is also opportunity in consumer payments. In a recent interview, Celent senior analyst Gareth Lodge said about  85%of payments in Japan, for example, are still made with cash.

"Asia and Japan, for example, are a little slower in removing paper from payments processing, so there is an opportunity there," Dinsdale says.

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