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What’s in a locked box ?

February 6th, 2006

Well it appears that the managing agent for the co-op where I live can’t accept electronic payment for the monthly maintenance. This illustrates why automation is going to take at least a generation to drastically change some jobs. Jobs where there isn’t the money for IT resources. I would be able to setup a regular monthly electronic ACH or Wire to the management company via a number of means which would reliably transfer the money same day or for credit tomorrow. However, what currently has to happen is that my bank prints the check (English: Cheque) and mails it to a PO Box out of town. I learn this from the woman who does the accounts at the managing agent who is paid to count the check slips and credit the appropriate accounts. The last thing of course she probably wants is for this process to go away. Things could get way past the tipping point of almost everybody automating the transfer with check printing from their bank’s web site and she would still be incented to manually credit the check slips.

Their bank has also sold them a locked box service. This is a service where you pay your bank, or at least their courier firm, to go to a PO Box actually at the post office and open it up, bring the checks back to the bank, deposit them and forward any slips off to the company collecting the money. In this case the co-op’s managing agent. This is a service used by many companies from utilities down to five person operations in order to ‘speed up’ the collection of their receivables.

As a result the bank is not about to just allow the company to conveniently list their received electronic payments online or any other means as they are able to charge for a manual process of collecting and clearing checks. So many of the advances that would apparently eliminate these manual jobs just don’t happen for want of somebody in a position to sell a service which educates customers (The average business) that their accounting process could be operated automatically with considerable labor savings, fewer errors and far faster service than the service their bank is currently selling them.

As usual the future arrives after a very long delay unless we can think of making money out of changing it…

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