OKLAHOMA CITY -- If being responsible for seeing that millions of checks make it from paper to electronic images as they wend their way through the vast, interconnected world of financial flow doesn't sound like a day at the park, you're not Jeff Vetterick.
"It's a lot of fun. It's a brand-new industry," says the general manager of Endpoint Exchange, LLC, the Metavante-owned operator of the Endpoint Exchange Network, a conglomeration of financial institutions, check-imaging software developers and image-item processing outsourcers all working to take advantage of advancing technology and Check 21.
Vetterick joined Endpoint Exchange in 2005 with 20 years of experience in the imaging and remittance processing businesses, including stints with Advanced Financial Solutions, Panini North America, Orbograph, Lundy Financial Systems, REI and Banctec.
During his long career he has watched as the tools for image-exchange networks developed, along with their markets. He also sees his network filling a niche that has developed as the largest banks formed their own networks, creating opportunity for operators like Endpoint Exchange.
The past year has been one of rapid growth, Vetterick says, capped off by signing 12 of the 20 largest banks to the network, which he says now has about a 28% penetration among credit unions and small to mid-sized banks and about 12% in mid-tier financial institutions of $10 billion in assets up to the 20 largest.
Those large, new members add bulk to a network that now includes about 4,700 of 15,900 endpoints (designated by those routing numbers on checks) and were a pioneer in the industry.
"Endpoint was the first image exchange out there," Vetterick says. "We were able to put the corporate credit unions together well before Check 21, and now we've grown to where we can attract larger banks because we offer so many destinations for them to exchange images with.
"Keep in mind, those smaller endpoints are generally more expensive for large banks to send images to, and they need to be able to reach all those credit unions and small banks, and that's where we come in."
Endpoint Exchange is based in Oklahoma City and does most of its processing at a 40,000 square-foot center near Milwaukee in Brown Deer, Wis. Vetterick compares his network's growth to the edge of a hockey stick, a line that gradually rises until it shoots upward. "That's what's happened with Endpoint Exchange," he says. "We've reached that critical mass where we can really take off. We don't have the vast volume of the largest networks, but we're now definitely a major player in the industry." Going forward, keeping up with changing technology while offering economical service and access to "the low-hanging fruit of smaller financial institutions that can be reached effectively and economically" are keys to the network continuing its growth, Vetterick says.
"You're looking at a very small startup fee," he says. "Something like $500 to join the NCHA and then $350 to join Endpoint. Then you have the ongoing telecommunication fee, usually a couple hundred dollars or so a month, and then some other charges, such as a penny to a penny and a half per item.
"But compare that to paper, which has to be put on trucks and airplanes. Moving paper is very expensive. We are the lowest-cost mechanism for image exchange because of our economies of scale.
"The smaller the institution, the more trouble it is to connect to multiple exchanges, because they have to support multiple pipelines and balances," he says. "We provide them with a single pipeline. It's pretty seamless. I suspect a good number of credit unions don't even know they're connecting to this world-class exchange, since they're doing it through their corporates."
He also sees the potential for more growth.
"There are certain pockets of the industry that we can still focus on, hundreds of small and mid-tier banks and credit unions. There's a lot of growth there," Vetterick says. --firstname.lastname@example.org