Friday, July 30, 2010

The evolution of remote capture

By Wally Vogel (

When remote deposit capture (RDC) first burst onto the scene, it was billed as a way for companies to eliminate daily trips to the bank. Today, reducing the time and costs associated with depositing checks is still a key factor in the adoption of the technology. But application of the technology has also evolved into a compliment to remittance processing, such as a way for far-flung sales agents to capture check images more quickly – helping to drive faster funds availability and enhanced service.

RDC is a product of The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (“Check 21”), a federal law enacted in 2004 that allows billers to electronically capture and transmit (via X9.37 file format) images of checks to their financial institution for clearing. Integrated balancing and automated character recognition tools assist billers in building balanced deposits. Once deposits are transmitted, original checks are truncated (retained) and eventually destroyed. Upon receipt of the file, the bank validates the items, performs any necessary corrections, and creates an image cash letter (or ICL) for deposit.

A Compliment to Remittance Processing
It didn’t take long for billers to recognize that RDC could be used to compliment -- and streamline -- remittance processing, which has historically been a back-office task. By capturing payment images and data at the point of presentment, and integrating the images and data with the back-office payments stream -- rather than redirecting the payments to the back-office -- billers can accelerate processing and funds availability; eliminate the costs to ship or transport payments to the back-office; offload some of the work from their back-office staff (and maybe even offload the work from their staff altogether); free back-office staff to perform other functions; and reduce paper handling and the associated costs. What’s more, capturing payments information sooner provides benefits such as faster posting, better visibility into receivables, and faster responses to customer inquiries.

The best part: remote deposit capture accomplishes all of this without requiring much upfront cost.

New RDC technologies are further expanding the applicability of the technology as a compliment to back-office remittance processing. For instance, support for flatbed TWAIN scanners enables consumers or remote employees to capture payments without the requirement for a specialized check scanner. Recognizing that the user in this environment may not be trained in payment processing, software guides the user through the scanning process. Another advancement in RDC is the use of smartphones to capture payment images. This enables field agents to capture payment images without having to transport or ship them to the back-office for processing – greatly speeding posting.

The Bottom Line
By complimenting back-office remittance processing with RDC, funds are available sooner, overall costs are improved, and customer service is enhanced. And because of the low overhead associated with RDC, growth in the biller’s remittance volume can be accommodated without a corresponding growth in the biller’s back-office infrastructure – meaning they can avoid a lot of capital expense.

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