Chase Manhattan's recent importation of its virtual lockbox from Europe to America reflects a Web-focused reengineering effort where automated optical scanning and Internet technology were added to enable corporate treasury execs to view and reconcile multicurrency items from the comfort of their desktops.

The improved Chase Image Lockbox provides treasurers more accurate remittance data and enables more efficient check collection. This cuts reconciliation time, clearing payments more quickly. Thus, by leaving less money in the cash drawer at the end of the day, customers get a more efficient management model, allowing, for instance, better use of an American company's repo program.

It also ensures that XYZ Inc. has actually paid its bills-or not, as the case may be. Chase estimates that customers using the system, called Chase Image Lockbox, can improve their profits by up to five percent.

Because the system was originally snapped together using existing components, including precoded payment slips, development was not complicated and took about seven months. Yet the endeavor wasn't cheap. "We basically set up a whole new infrastructure," says Lloyd O'Connor, a Chase technology vp. "We invested in scanning devices and image storing devices, outside of the front-end image utility that the clients use to access the image. There was a significant investment made in the operational platform." O'Connor says he doesn't know how much Chase invested in the system.

Chase Manhattan Bank introduced the service last year in Europe and brought it to the States in November. It operates out of Chase's Bournemouth, England-based computer center, but Chase expects to expand the virtual lockbox service worldwide this year via the Internet.


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