Imaging May Ease Bank’s Paperwork

Published in 1992 (Computer Jagat)

Imaging systems may be the lifeline that saves banks and other financial institutions from drowning in their own paperwork.

Financial markets in general have a tendency to generate copious amounts of paperwork and store it indefinitely. And Asia tends to use more pieces of paper per transaction, and to handle each more often, than does Europe or North America.

Managing all this information has become a major drain on financial and labor resources and efficient retrieval has become a contradiction in terms.

Electronic document imaging technology can overcome the debilitating   effects   suffered   by companies wrestling with a mass of paper.

Asia has at least one advantage over its Western counterparts in its efforts to fight its way out of paper war. As it is difficult to squeeze Asian scripts into computer languages designed for Roman characters, a faster than-average acceptance of elementary imaging tools such as fax machines has resulted.

With image technology, anyone able to read the language used can understand the output. It is for this reason that many Asian countries have a high ratio of fax machines to PCs.

The next logical step is to extend the imaging infrastructure to allow a bank officer, for example, to sit at a workstation, key in a customer’s account number and view all information relating to that account — in its original document format — on the screen in front of him.

Improved customer service is but one of the benefits of imaging. Electronic communication between financial organizations and with other external agencies could obliterate many time consuming practices.

EDI points in the right direction. But until EDI becomes pervasive, and for as long as the image of a document remains a legal or operational requirement, imaging provides the most viable solution.

Increased efficiency in document retrieval is a very tangible benefit to businesses which regularly service customer enquiries, or have a need to frequently access customer files or product manuals.

Images of documents which must be processed at several stations — for example, those associated with loan applications or letters of credit — could be automatically routed through the various sections instantaneously with high efficiency and no risk of misplacement. These sections could even be located in different cities and countries.

But you have to spend money before you save it. Banks should be prepared to pay from several hundred thousand to several million US dollars on a fully functional system, plus 12 months to get it up and running. Yes, it’s a big investment, and one that requires very careful consideration. But the payback is enormous.

Huge space savings, a reduced labor force and 30-60% productivity gains are a start. Then factor in the economies of off-loading whatever manual processes remain to low-cost operations centers, possibly even in foreign countries.

Benefits also accrue from the application of data captured during the imaging process. Better-informed executives make better decisions. Product developments more closely align with the needs of the market. Promotional campaigns carefully and efficiently target likely customers.

Imaging systems which share information with other systems avoid duplication. Data need only be entered once, from where it becomes accessible from any part of the organization.

More savings arise from the reusability of existing equipment. Many sites already have PCs, for instance, and this” investment can be leveraged with new imaging systems.

An imaging system is not currently a straight sell. Due to its intimate relationship with the operating procedures of the user site, it requires an experienced and attentive system provider to match the installation with the unique needs of the customer.

Organizations which work with these specialists to implement imaging systems now can minimize the risks of being a market leader by insisting on open systems. Any imaging system bought today will probable be expected to perform tasks that haven’t been thought of yet before the end of its useful life. It must therefore offer flexibility from the start.

–  Dai K. Kim

Manager of financial systems, Hewlett-Packard Asia Pacific Ltd.,

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