Check 21: Image Is Everything

The latest in capture technology gives CUs entrée into new markets.

July 11, 2011
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

Even though the volume of checks written gradually declines each year, credit unions should continue to invest in check-capture technologies that automate item processing and lower costs, says Andrew Tilbury, director of marketing and communications at Bluepoint Solutions Inc.

The two main variants of Check 21 technology are in-branch capture in both the back office and at the teller line, and remote capture at ATMs, merchant locations, at home, or via members’ smartphones.

Tilbury says Chase promoted the launch of its mobile capture product with a massive ad campaign—the newlyweds in bed depositing wedding gift checks on a smartphone—that stressed 24/7 convenience, available anytime, anywhere. “This made consumers immediately aware of the technology. All of a sudden, the paper check—on the verge of becoming obsolete—had once again become a useful payment instrument.”

The capture technology Bluepoint Solutions offers uses an image quality assurance engine to process check images, taking into account irregular angles and adverse lighting conditions.

“More than one-third of consumers own smartphones, but only a handful of financial institutions offer mobile deposit applications,” says Tilbury. “The mobile deposit movement is at its nascent stage. No one knows exactly how mobile deposit will affect the payments industry. It has the ability to revolutionize how consumers conduct financial transactions.”

Best of all, Tilbury sees mobile capture as a way for credit unions to retain members who move away. “Mobile deposit makes it easier for members to maintain their relationship with you no matter where they move.”

Matthew Bowen, senior vice president of check and document image solutions at FIS, says smartphone deposit capture is essentially self-service. “You’re seeing a gradual shift from full- to self-service, including loan payments and deposits. Consumers are looking for convenience, and remote deposit capture [RDC] appeals to younger people who like self-service channels.”

However, Bowen sees a small challenge with older members: “They might have smartphones, but many aren’t used to using the added capabilities they provide, such as cameras. So there’s a learning curve. But after they’ve done it one or two times, they have no problems.

“The smartphone is very appealing compared with a scanner/personal computer [PC] combination,” he continues. “There’s no Web-based log-in, no scanner warm-up, and it’s not tied to one location.”

The other form of remote capture technology Bowen refers to, a PC-connected scanner, is now familiar to consumers. More than one-third of U.S. households now have scanners, which have become an inexpensive technology.

“The three components that make RDC function are now readily available,” says Michael Pratt, chief marketing officer at Panini, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider. “They are Internet-based software that enables capture and encryption, an Internet connection, and conversion technology—a device that can read MICR. We offer a device that fits in the hand, is easily located next to the desktop, and is currently priced at less than $300.”

Catering to merchants

Pratt says rapidly developing RDC technology offers credit unions entrée into the small-business market.

“We’ve found that small businesses typically are underserved or overserved,” he says. “They either get a standard retail offering, which might be free but is consumer-oriented, or they get a corporate offering that’s feature-rich but prohibitively expensive.”

But the technology has come a long way. “In 2004, when Check 21 was introduced, check-scanning machines were big and expensive, often located at major centralized installations,” Pratt explains. “Now, with right-sized devices, RDC technology presents some great opportunities for credit unions. They’re convenient, particularly for small businesses where owners don’t have the time to visit the credit union to make deposits. So there’s a big savings on time and transportation. Also, RDC improves cash flow because of same-day processing. Money is more quickly available at crucial times.”

Next: Marketing to members

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive