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The ability to capture a check and send it to a bank for deposit in a distributed fashion has actually existed for more than 3 years. With the Check21 act which came into effect on October 28, 2004, it is now possible to clear a check based on an image with minimum amounts of data; routing number and account number. The last three technologies have been built to bring this act to life. It will eventually become common practice for individuals and more so business to deposit checks at the point of acquisition.

Individuals tend to receive small numbers of checks, and the amount of personal checks in circulation is decreasing annually. For individuals using a cell phone camera to snap a photo of a check or stopping by the bank is no major task. The convenience factor of taking a photo of a check and simply sending to a bank is a huge draw, but consumers are not willing to pay much for it. For companies who receive several checks a day this ad-hoc capture method is more time consuming than saving.

For companies, the key to successful remote deposit capture ( RDC ) is a scanner that can capture data and image of many checks. They are specifically check scanners, but document scanners have also come long way in this area. Check scanners today are very fast, but also pretty pricey. Second, they need an application that assist and tracks the sending of the images and data to banks via a secure connection. There is a current premium on the complete solution especially when you incorporate CAR and LAR technologies that read the courtesy and legal amounts written on the check. These technologies only recently deployed in ATM machines, costing many hundreds of thousands per machine, require high quality images and a lot of money. Because companies opt for MICR reading without CAR and LAR technology, they end up with a reasonably priced solution, but the bank has to do more work verifying amounts, thus increases the usage fees.

Remote deposit capture is a technology and solution space to keep and eye on. It’s a mainstream use of image capture and document recognition technologies that is highly demanded. I suspect more solutions will appear at a lower cost and greater ease-of-use. In reality, the technology availability will come before the adoption by larger and slower banks from demand.

Chris Riley – Sr. Solutions Architect

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