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The Paperless Progress in the U.S.

Wadih Pazos December 30, 2014

The Paperless Progress in the U.S.
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It seems as though the United States is still working toward the goal of going paperless in multiple areas. Despite the available technology, only a few in the government have made progress with an attempt at a paperless legislature, and only some companies in the banking industry have been utilizing invoice automation and electronic documentation. There is still a long road ahead for the U.S. as a whole to go paperless.

The government’s attempt at paperless

In New York’s capital, there has been a struggle to go paperless. There was an amendment approved in November to remove the requirement that bills must be printed for lawmakers to vote on them, but many fear that the process for those bills to be circulated electronically will be slow, according to Capital New York. A new system is reported to be prepared to be put into place in January, and it is expected to save paper and money for New York’s government. The estimated cost of paper for the New York legislature is $13 million annually.

“Right now, they are working on implementing a new system by January, the opening of session. That’s the goal,” said Assemblyman John McDonald. “Whether the goal will be made or not is undetermined. If not beginning of the year, shortly thereafter.”

This is a good step, as the Daily Mail reported that the world’s paper consumption has actually increased by half since 1980. The U.S. is in the top ten worst offenders for using paper – however, the source said that the Belgians were the worst by using eight trees’ worth of paper per person annually.

Efilecabinet mentioned that the U.S. federal government actually spends as much a year on paper as it does on printing currency. The need for paperless processes is necessary more than it ever has been with the implementation of hard-copy documents so very ingrained in society, despite the increasing use of technology both in and out of the workplace.

Paperless in the banking world

Invoice automation is available to various businesses, but the banking industry has been lacking in utilizing this available technology. However, according to American Banker, an all-digital process is being put into place by U.S. Bancorp, and the company has been finding better electronic processes so customers can handle loans and bills electronically.

The source mentioned how a large part of the banking industry is still hesitant to use technology in place of paper statements due to the fear that technology is not secure. In addition, some of these fears are strangely perceived without evidence.

“Banks continue to stumble when it comes to automating the consumer lending processes,” wrote consultants at Cornerstone Advisors in a recent study. “The percentage of direct loans approved through automated underwriting and direct loan applications originated online remains at zero. Banks are simply not spending the time or money on direct consumer lending to make it an efficient process.”

However, Bancorp has been taking steps to prepare paperless automation for its customers. E-signatures for loans are available for 85 percent of loan accounts and 90 percent of deposits have electronic signatures as an option for customers. The source also highlighted that with these options, errors have been reduced. The automation process has allowed Bancorp employees to see data electronically from the start, rather that having the need to convert data from hard copy to the bank’s system.

Paperless environments have yet to become commonplace, but companies like Bancorp and people pushing paperless like those in Albany’s government are the leading examples of a paperless world. The technology available has made it easier to implement, and the benefits that come with it – such as reduction in errors and smoother customer relationships – make a paperless process in a business something that should be a priority.

Wadih Pazos

Wadih founded both PairSoft and PaperSave. He is an avid technologist who specializes in streamlining operations and maximizing productivity.

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