Many of life’s most important documents need to be notarized — a traditionally time-intensive process that involves customers finding, scheduling, and visiting a notary public in person to have their signature verified.
But times have changed. Prior to 2020, some states had already made headway in passing legislation to facilitate electronic closings to better serve communities remotely. However, the COVID-19 crisis thrust this transformation into overdrive.
What is remote online notarization?
Remote online notarization (RON) is the process of notarizing a document remotely with the use of an electronic signature and identity verification.
This technology enables a notary public and the signer to conduct a notarial act via their devices no matter their locations, expediting processes like loan closings.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of remote online notarization rose by 547% in 2020, and in July 2022, the House passed the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act. This bipartisan legislation allows state-commissioned notary publics to remotely notarize electronic records with supporting technical requirements, including creation and retention of video and audio recordings.
The benefits of remote online notarization
RON positively impacts financial institutions and their customers by further streamlining and automating the mortgage process. Additional benefits include:
An enhanced borrower experience
Remote online notarization is far more convenient for borrowers. With the ability to schedule an online appointment at a time that suits them, borrowers can expedite closing and potentially secure their loan funds faster. Borrowers can also maintain a digital experience from application to close.
It’s easy to make a mistake with paper-based processes — and even easier to miss a signature. With remote online notarization, tools that automatically flag missed fields or incorrect information offer customers the ability to proactively correct errors and avoid delays.
Better fraud prevention and security
Traditional in-person notarizations involve a notary manually reviewing a photo ID or passport, which isn’t always precise. Remote online notarizations add an extra layer of oversight in the form of identity credential analysis.
A more sustainable process
Most applications require lenders to print tens or even hundreds of pages, making the sustainability benefits of remote online notarization significant. If notaries complete every notarization digitally, the industry could reduce consumption by over two billion sheets of paper consumed during the mortgage process.
Lenders save time and improve turnaround
For lenders, there are numerous benefits associated with remote online notarization, including new levels of efficiency resulting in faster turnaround times. Since they no longer have to travel, notaries can certify more documents at a faster clip. In fact, with an end-to-end digital process, customers, notaries, and lenders can sign, notarize, and process all closing documents on the same day.
How Blend supports remote online notarization
At Blend, we recognize that lenders need a continuously evolving solution to meet rising customer expectations.
Blend Close gives borrowers the flexibility to close from anywhere while maintaining the elevated and modern experience they’ve come to expect from our Mortgage product. They can meet an eNotary, have their ID verified, and complete the closing process all within the Blend experience via webcam.
Working from the same platform as borrowers allows notaries to boost productivity with an at-a-glance view of upcoming closings. It also gives notaries the ability to review closing instructions all in one place. Plus Blend’s credential analysis simplifies identity verification through an additional layer of fraud detection.
Electronic closing shines as a smooth step to an end-to-end digital solution. Headquartered in Illinois, BMO Harris Bank adopted Blend’s cloud lending platform to create an exceptional, full mortgage and home equity experience for both customers and staff.
“We are always looking to make the entire process more convenient for our customers. We know they are busy, and traveling to a bank branch or title company may be inconvenient,” says Eric Somers, vice president of digital lending at BMO Harris Bank. “Partnering with Blend will enable us to be on the forefront and continue our track record of innovation.”
Learn more about BMO Harris Bank’s partnership with Blend.