Craig Vaream, managing director and product executive for receivables at J.P. Morgan (New York; $2.2 trillion in assets) says the bank is helping to get the paper out of the system. In addition to his duties in the receivables unit, Vaream also heads the bank's green initiatives.
It has already become clear just how easily electronic payments and document imaging go hand-in-hand with any industry's earth-friendly push. At J.P. Morgan, it's a natural fit for its go-ahead strategy in the treasury services space. Last year, financial institution announced it would invest $1 billion in its treasury business. Those investments are already coming to fruition as the bank has rolled out several new products in the treasury area over the last few months alone. Coming in August, Vaream says yet another addition will be welcomed to the bank's treasury services family—Virtual Remit. This will be part of J.P. Morgan's Receivables Edge platform and will allow treasury clients to eliminate even more paper from their systems and to eliminate currier costs. "Virtual Remit is the same concept as a check scanner, but bigger. It can scan any size document and aggregate all that information online," Vaream explained to BS&T.
Virtual Remit will feature duplicate protection, segmentation of data, and audit and risk controls. It will be targeted at all of J.P. Morgan's commercial customer segments. "Clients appreciate the faster availability of an image environment. The technology has really matured. Distributed capture is really taking hold now," he says.
The product is in pilot now and Vaream says the bank received a large number of inquiries from clients wishing to participate in the test. "People are getting comfortable with scanners," he says.
As Vaream reflects on the financial crisis, he says he has noticed some changes in client behavior, especially around reprioritization and resource availability (or lack thereof). Also, although the bank's volumes are not in decline, the actual dollar value per transaction is. "People are paying their bills, but they're either spending less or paying smaller amounts. They're being more cautious," he surmises.
Even so, treasury services remains an area of growth and it doesn't make sense to him for banks to cut a growth area. "There are still efficiencies to be had. There are opportunities in the cash management space for corporates to benefit. I think the business case be made even more strongly today with regard to all the efficiencies to be gained by eliminating paper," he says.