In an ever-changing payments environment, companies need to regularly examine the services they are using and the alternatives available to them. A perfect example of why this is so important is found in the commodity scanning vs. digital mailroom debate. Commodity scanning is when a party offers a scanning service that is based on the software they purchase from someone else instead of partnering with an organization that specializes in document scanning and integrating that technology with their own.

A perfect example of commodity scanning is the lockbox services that banks offer for digital collection and processing of account receivables (AR) payments by having them mailed to a secure post office box and transported directly to the bank for processing. The benefit of this service is that it eliminates the need for a company’s employees to handle and deposit incoming checks.

While it’s a smart business practice for a bank to offer a lockbox service, companies purchasing one should understand that banks aren’t technology companies, and digitally collecting and processing AR payments is a technology-driven process. Consequently, banks usually purchase software from a third party and attempt to construct this solution internally, or they outsource it to a third party instead of integrating the requisite technology with their own. Although the commodity scanning approach may be serviceable on some level, businesses should make sure that the bank they utilize for lockbox services isn’t just buying optical character recognition (OCR) and a software package from a third party and selling it as their own solution.

To offer a robust lockbox solution that operates at full functionality, banks need to partner with a full-service automation provider, like DataServ, that has their own digital mailroom, and integrate that technology into their lockbox solution instead of just using someone else’s software and re-selling it to you. In turn, to make this a true partnership, the bank would utilize its specialty and provide its full-service automation provider with payment remittances capabilities. This is an example of what a partnership is supposed to be: both companies, and their respective clients, benefit from a more robust and complete solution.

The digital mailroom component is essential. We can’t stress enough the importance of finding a partner that offers a highly automated, complete digital mailroom that uses Software as a Service (SaaS) OCR. A digital mailroom AR solution provides all remittance data electronically, and it will be quality reviewed with human validation on the back end and checked for accuracy, which is not the case with most commodity scanning-based lockbox solutions today. This allows it to return 99%+ clean data and images to speed cash application and resolve discrepancies. In addition, a SaaS OCR digital mailroom solution will accept documents of any type, in any format, via mail, courier, FTP, remote capture, or EDI.

For more information about the differences between an outsourced lockbox solution and an integrated one, or if you represent a bank and are interested in discussing a potential partnership, please contact us at

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