ALT/AVE (www.altave.co.uk) is a London-based Regtech company helping to combat the underreported paper waste problem faced by financial institutions by offering a secure and sustainable digital solution for distributing highly regulated documents to their customers. When implemented, its solution will result in a 95% reduction in paper usage and a 25g decrease in CO2e per document compared to postal delivery. ALT/AVE also donates 10% of its solution’s bandwidth revenue to tree planting charities.
According to a 2018 Ernst & Young report, the retail banking sector accounts for an average customer paper volume of 482 million per year, with a significant proportion the result of the manual paper distribution of regulated documents. With the current digital alternatives proving insecure or not fit-for-purpose, ALT/AVE’s distributed ledger technology, docStribute, enables banks and other financial institutions to safely and securely deliver heavily regulated documents to customers via email, providing a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to paper communication.
The City’s Hidden Paper Waste Problem
Although there have been numerous advancements in financial technology in recent decades, many facets remain outdated and inefficient. It is a legal requirement set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2009 that “a firm must provide or make available to a banking customer appropriate information about a retail banking service and any deposit made in relation to that retail banking service:
- in good time;
- in an appropriate medium;
- and in easily understandable language and in a clear and comprehensible form”
However, due to heavy regulations surrounding the method of delivery, there is currently no easy way for financial institutions to digitally distribute these documents to customers. Sending documents via email, while not prohibited, is not favourable. Including documents as attachments, for example, can lead to corruption of data, increases the likelihood of bouncebacks or having an email marked as ‘spam’, in addition to creating a vector through which malware can be propagated. Supplying documents as attachments can also allow the receiver to alter the text.
To avoid this, many institutions resort to sending paper copies to the customer so as to ensure compliance. Not only is this costly, but results in masses of paper waste with an environmental impact. According to a 2018 EY report, in 2017, financial services companies sent 5.2 billion paper documents to their customers in the post, representing an extremely significant and underreported environmental issue.
To combat this, ALT/AVE created docStribute – a distributed ledger application that utilises a decentralized public network known as hashgraph, a secure, shared database that everyone can read from and write to, and a faster, more secure alternative to blockchain. Hashgraph enables all participants within a given network to access their own identical copy of an asset, while ensuring that the content cannot be altered in any way.
Using docStribute, financial institutions can send secure links in the body of emails that direct the recipient to a digital version of the document in their web browser, which can then be downloaded if requested. docStribute streamlines the way in which these institutions communicate with customers, enabling them to utilise ALT/AVE’s ecosystem to send important financial documents quickly, securely and, most importantly, while meeting regulatory requirements. This streamlined solution increases employee efficiency by improving productivity and freeing resources for value-added tasks, as well as offering customers a vastly improved customer journey.
Awareness surrounding corporate sustainability efforts has been heightened dramatically in the past decade and ALT/AVE is working hard to support banks and other financial institutions in their efforts to fight climate change. Such initiatives include Bankers for NetZero, an initiative bringing together banks, businesses and regulators to enable them to successfully support their clients, accelerate the transition to net zero and deliver on the UK government’s ambitions for addressing climate change.
Through the use of docStribute, ALT/AVE is helping to reduce the industry’s reliance on paper. Once set up, docStribute will reduce paper usage by 95%, accounting for a 5% bounce back rate where the best alternative is to distribute documents in the mail. docStribute will also reduce costs by up to 70% and result in a comparative reduction of 25g of CO2e per delivery, where postal deliveries are estimated to result in 29g of CO2e per item compared with 4g of CO2e for docStribute emails.
In addition to helping their customers reduce their environmental impact and CO2 footprint, ALT/AVE also donates 10% of its solution’s bandwidth revenue directly linked to the amount of paper saved by its clients, to tree planting charities around the world.
How It Works
docStribute utilises a decentralised hashgraph network known as Hedera, the only public ledger that uses hashgraph consensus, a faster, more secure alternative to blockchain, and the same system used by the UK’s NHS to track COVID-19 vaccine temperatures. Hashgraph works efficiently to verify transactions while ensuring the highest standard of security to prevent malicious attacks. Utilising Hedera Hashgraph ensures that every copy of a given ledger, which only persists the latest state, is stored on a network node, meaning that ALT/AVE is able to prove the integrity of any given asset. As a result, ALT/AVE’s ecosystem is completely transparent and, due to the nature of a public ledger, all changes, regardless of site, geography or institution are reflected on all copies of the asset within minutes or even seconds.
When a financial institution sends a document to a customer, the asset is run through an advanced algorithm which then generates an immutable hyperlink that can be embedded in an email to the customer with a call to action. Once checks are completed within Hedera and the client application itself, the document “unlocks” and customers are then pointed to the docStribute domain (an unrelated party), to view the document, or, depending on the level of integration, the client’s own domain, allowing them to host the files at approved subdomains.
docStribute works as a standalone solution or can be integrated into existing platforms via API or through a manual integration depending on the clients’ requirements and security protocols. Documents are stored in the country in which the customer is based and, as a result, prevents the cross-border movement of data. It is also far more sustainable. Utilising Hedera provides greater efficiencies that can be redeemed in the form of renewable energy credit (REC), enabling companies to meet their sustainability goals sooner.
ALT/AVE upholds all standard practices for ensuring email authentication and advises all institutions utilising docStribute to do the same. Some examples of these are SPF, DMARC and DKIM.
Christopher Ansara, founder and CEO at ALT/AVE:
“The digital distribution of regulated documents for financial institutions is complicated and, as a result, we tend to see many firms simply revert to paper or attempt to implement inefficient digital onboarding solutions. I started ALT/AVE because I saw this problem over and over again, and I knew that there was a better way. For some time, there has been a heightened consciousness and awareness around sustainability within the financial industry and the acceleration of digitisation throughout 2020 and into 2021 has pushed more and more businesses to streamline their practices and work towards shifting online sooner rather than later.
ALT/AVE has both sustainability and productivity at its heart, and we hope to see our solution help to not only reduce the use of paper, but also help organisations become more sustainable, assisting the UK in reaching its decarbonisation targets of net zero by 2050, and help businesses in the financial sector streamline working practices while ensuring regulatory requirements are being met.”
ALT/AVE Management Team
Christopher Ansara, founder and CEO
Christopher is both founder and CEO of ALT/AVE, and a digital transformation guru. Prior to founding ALT/AVE, Christopher led digital transformation programmes at HSBC, where he revolutionised the company’s customer communication infrastructure for retail banking customers across branch, call centre and online channels. Christopher has worked with many senior product and regulatory stakeholders in various financial institutions to develop content and software solutions that facilitate e-correspondence with customers. Alongside many financial institutions, Christopher has also previously worked with some of the world’s leading brands including Castrol, Coca-Cola, Adidas and McDonald’s.
Christian Hvamstad, co-founder and CSO
Christian A. Hvamstad is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of ALT/AVE. Hvamstad is founder of Jagca Capital and co-founder of Nordic recycling company Wastefront. Christian was a former board member of Quantafuel UK and has more than 15 years of experience in wealth management, capital markets and credit management, having worked at Midas Investment Group, Nordea, SEB, First Securities, and Lindorff.
Vegard Bringsjord, co-founder and CFO
Vegard Bringsjord is Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of ALT/AVE, as well as a partner at Jagca Capital and co-founder of Nordic recycling company Wastefront. His experience ranges from asset finance, restructuring, and risk management in energy, to shipping and commodity trade – having worked at Nordea’s Shipping, Offshore, and Oil Services Division as well as Angola LNG Marketing.
Nino Vang Vojvodic, co-founder and CTO
Nino has 20 years of experience in IT security, business development and finance, and has extensive knowledge on how to combine cutting edge technologies with governance models to support growth. Prior to joining ALT/AVE as CTO, Nino founded Hamilton People, an HR/technology company employing more than 1,000 people in Norway. He is a co-founder of Ledgerstate, a company accelerating the deployment of digitalisation technologies to support SDGs.
ALT/AVE is a start-up pushing the boundaries of regulatory technology with its headquarters in London.
Combining next-generation distributed ledger technology and deep expertise in regulatory compliance, ALT/AVE’s solution, docStribute, helps financial institutions streamline the digital distribution of regulated documents in a way that reduces the industry’s reliance on paper, streamlines digital processes and mitigates the risk of non-compliance. ALT/AVE serves as a way that is a more sustainable, digitally safer and cost-effective solution for financial services companies to better communicate with their customers.