WesBank has unveiled iContract, a secure web-based system for signing vehicle finance contracts online and the first-of-its-kind launched by any vehicle financier in South Africa.

The locally-developed iContract provides potential vehicle owners with the ability to sign their finance contracts on a comprehensive and straightforward online format at their convenience, be it at home, in the work environment or at the dealership.

According to statistics by Internet World, South Africa currently has more than 6,8-million internet users. In addition, the e-commerce market globally is worth an estimated R735-billion in 2011.

“Internet usage is growing rapidly and our research has shown an increased willingness by clients to interact financially online at their leisure,” says Chris De Kock, executive head of sales & marketing at WesBank.

De Kock says the system was developed in keeping with the easily accessible and user-friendly services online consumers enjoy at their disposal. “We believe this is the next logical step in vehicle finance in South Africa, offering consumers the ability to easily finalise their vehicle finance contract 24/7, without the complicated terminology and in less than half the time it normally takes to complete the traditional paper-based contracting process.”

He says that iContract was purposefully designed by external consultants to remove all the technical jargon so that it is easy to comprehend, unlike the traditional contracts consumers are usually overwhelmed with.

“iContract guides the user through each section of the terms and conditions in a step-by-step and easy-to-read format. With the aid of ‘tooltips’, the client can hover the mouse pointer over certain legal terms, which are highlighted in a different colour, to open a textbox window that explains the terminology in plain English if it is required.”

De Kock says that the new service has already seen significant take-up from customers and he attributes its success to the paperless, uncomplicated and hassle-free layout. “The accessibility has been received favourably and over the past three weeks we have already signed up nearly 1 000 contracts, with most customers completing the process in less than 20 minutes. This is significant as it would have previously taken the average customer between 45 minutes and an hour to sign the finance contract at the dealership.”

He says that, once a consumer has engaged with a Finance and Insurance (F&I) consultant at a dealership to finalise the selection of a vehicle and approval of finance, WesBank generates a unique account number and PIN, which is emailed to the client who, in their own time, enters those details on the WesBank website to complete the legal process.

“The entire process is legally compliant. As customers are guided through the contract they are prompted to acknowledge their agreement and understanding of each section of the T&C’s before proceeding, which allows the system to date and time stamp the contract accordingly. Additional benefits include the ability to save documents digitally for personal record keeping, so that the client has a clear understanding of what is required of him and has easy referencing capabilities.”

Alternatively, provided all of the necessary documentation is at hand, consumers can also sign the iContract on the dealership premises. “The new contracting system benefits both the consumer and WesBank, no matter where the consumer chooses to finalise the agreement,” De Kock says.