Should we use optical character recognition on credit card statements? It can be done, and the fact that there is no running total to check by is not necessarily that much of an issue because we can still check at the end of each statement and the transactions are seldom all that large.
We have decided not to do it because it would make our software over-complicated. Few clients have many credit card transactions, and we have a good system to type in data by the column which we use for handwritten records when they resemble bank statements. We think that it would be better to treat credit cards and handwritten records in the same way and then concentrate on having the best possible system for processing them. There is still work to do on streamlining our system.
Our columnwise data entry system for credit cards and handwritten cash transactions will use entry in the order numbers, dates and narratives. As we enter each statement or page, the software will detect the delay in going to a new page and set a “datepoint”. Positive numbers that we enter will be treated as debits, while negative numbers will be treated as top-ups and moved to the appropriate column automatically.
We then go to the first datepoint and enter the date from a 31-button keypad. The month and year are copied down or requested as necessary, and then we jump to either the next datepoint, or the next material item costing more than £100. We won’t bother dating a mass of small transactions, but at the end we will run a routine which just interpolates the dates so every transaction does get a date after all.
Narratives are then entered by Narrative Prediction. It will help if motor fuel payments all have the same narrative, such as “Diesel Fuel” or “Petrol”, and many credit card payments are just for motor fuel anyway. We still have work to do on improving NP.
We will work on developing this system as the alternative to OCR. It can be used for some difficult bank statements as well. We could actually be wrong in our decision not to use OCR on credit card statements. Well good luck to any of our competitors who can show this !