Let’s face it, paper receipts are not efficient POS records. They’re small, easily, and often accidentally, discarded or scrunched into a ball. They can be easily lost or discarded in desk drawers and pockets – and they fade. 

However, despite these obvious drawbacks, paper receipts are still the go-to means of recording a transaction. However, thanks to the advent of receipt OCR technology, it’s 98% accuracy when recording data and mainstream global adoption, more and more people across the globe are finally ridding themselves of pesky receipts.

2022 may well be the year that we finally wave goodbye to paper receipts. However, we’re not quite their yet. So, if anyone needs further convincing that adopting digital receipt capture is a decision that must be made, we thought that we’d do some further explaining, using a clear drawback of paper receipts as an example – the fact that they fade. 

Why Do Paper Receipts Fade?

In a nutshell, because they’re printed on thermal paper. Now, there are two glaring issues with thermal paper. For one, it is coated with the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) which is an endocrine disruptor – basically it interferes with our body’s hormones and can cause all sorts of health problems, including asthma, heart disease, and reproductive disorders. 

Now, of course, that is serious. But the BPA coating also causes receipts to fade when exposed to UV light. Ink will fade to the point of being illegible and text will blur. Exposure to warmth also causes the shade of the paper to dim making it more difficult to read the details of your purchase(s). 

So, if it’s so inefficient why do we still print receipts on thermal paper. Simple. It’s cheap to produce and the hardware requires minimal upkeep. Until now. Enter OCR receipt capture technology

How to Read Faded Receipts

There are a couple of ways that you can read faded receipts. Whilst neither method is likely to restore the text to being as legible as it once was, they should help you to identify most elements.

Scan the Receipt into Adobe Photoshop

Providing that the receipt paper is white and not faded to a yellowy brown colour, you can try scanning your receipts and opening the file in Adobe Photoshop. You can then manipulate the image. Making the background lighter, for instance, might make the line text more visible. You can also try using filters to see if they make the image clearer.

Apply Warmth with a Hairdryer

If trying image receipt capture, then uploading the file to your computer and manipulating it sounds like too much fuss, you can always try the old-fashioned way – apply warm to the paper with a hairdryer. 

With a medium heat, apply the warm air to the back of the receipt. Make sure that you keep the hairdryer far enough away that it warms the paper, but not too far away that the warm air barely reaches the ink. If you hold the hair dryer too close, the ink may run. Remember too that whilst thermal paper has a lower level of flammability, it’s still paper!

What Is Receipt OCR?

Optical character recognition for receipts is the digital conversion of receipt text, images, and paper composition into encoded software to great a digital file of the receipt. 

All you need to do is take a picture of your receipt using the camera on your smartphone, upload the picture to an app, and OCR will then pull all the required data (line by line, if you use Tabscanner) to create the most accurate digital version of your receipt. 

As part of a successful AI-based data extraction process, transferring the data from paper to digital format allows businesses to streamline operational actions and costs and create new product offerings. Transforming expenses and overall fiscal management, receipt parsing is, arguably, the biggest step towards digitising accounting in the history of the sector.

Why Is Receipt OCR Important?

The world has gone digital. Paper receipts simply don’t cut it any more. And it’s only a matter of time before receipt parsing is adopted by everyone all over the world.

Why? The benefits. From streamlining commercial processes to reporting, cost and time savings, there are numerous reasons why receipt parsing is set to take off in the coming years. 

Think about it this way. Remote or hybrid working has become the norm in 2021. This will continue into 2022 and beyond. Yet, businesses still need to manage their expenses. Do you really think that someone will go from door to door, collecting employee receipts and then manually input all the data into a spreadsheet to calculate monthly reimbursements? Of course not. 

All employees need to do is to take a picture of their receipts, upload it to an app. The receipt will then be stored in the cloud where expense departments can then access each and calculate any reimbursements.

And that’s just one practical example of why receipt OCR is and will continue to be important in 2022 and beyond!