File Cabinet Goes Hi-Tech

Imagine a room the size of a basketball court, packed with clunky file cabinets that are stuffed with manila folders.

By contrast, imagine shrinking that data bog to a jukebox-size unit filled with small plastic disks, and instantly being able to access by computer any information in the box.

Get the picture? Banks do. And the potential savings in floor space, money, and manpower are among the reasons the American Banker/Ernst & Young 1991 technology survey shows that these banks are racing to adopt file-folder imaging. File-folder systems convert documents to electronic form and store them away.

According to the survey, commercial banks nationwide currently sport some 100 file-folder installations. But the survey projected that the number will soar to almost 1,200 by the end of 1993.

High hopes for the technology are easy to understand. Besides reducing paper and storage costs, file-folder software can help to automate and streamline workflow procedures, boosting productivity up to 50%.

Large banks were first to jump on the file-folder bandwagon. Since 1985, Security Pacific Corp. has used imaging to process documents generated by a discrepancy in international funds transfer.

But because the technology tends to be more affordable than larger-scale check imaging systems, a smattering of midsize banks and thrifts, including $5 billion-asset Green Point Savings Bank, in Brooklyn, N.Y., have been testing the waters.

Greenpoint decided in 1989 to purchase a $60,000 file-folder system designed by Minolta Corp. to back up the thrift's mainframe software documentation.

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