Automated Data Capture: A Bridge to E-Transactions

Executive Summary

Electronic transactions have multiple benefits over traditional paper-based exchanges. They are typically faster, less expensive to conduct and can even be more accurate and secure than paper. In 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department estimated that it cost nearly $3 to process a paper tax return and only $.35 to process an e-return. Invoice processing studies have shown similar cost reductions for e-invoice implementations.

That said, there is certainly no shortage of paper documents in use in transactions today. Factors such as inertia, resistance to change and the cost of converting from paper to electronic processes have ensured that billions of pieces of paper are still used in transactions annually. For example, according to Paystream Advisors, paper is the most common way for organizations to send invoices – in 2009, U.S. businesses produced more than 25 billion paper invoice documents.

In addition, according to the U.S. Healthcare Efficiency Index, there are more than seven billion paper-driven healthcare transactions that take place annually in the U.S. And the U.S. Federal government alone, not counting local and state branches, receives 49 million paper 1040 forms.

Sure, in an ideal world, these organizations could snap their fingers and make their paper transactions magically convert to electronic ones – removing considerable cost and inefficiencies from their business processes. And, albeit slowly in some cases, we are definitely trending toward more electronic transactions. But, one look at the mortgage industry, for example, where the average file size has grown to more than 200 pages, and where electronic closings are still rare, will show that we are a long way from a paperless world.

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