Because the core competency fit and the market is there, said Cliff Hagan of Wycom Systems, a veteran provider of check signing and document generation and management tools.
Based in the unlikely venue of Yakutat, Alaska, where the company's president, Perry Koehne, makes his home, Wycom Systems was founded in the early 1980s and made its mark by automating the cut-and-sign check process credit unions were using back then.
"Banks dealt more in cash, but credit unions would cut share checks all day long," said Hagan, who is based in Atlanta and has been with Wycom Systems since 1988. "Perry's product came along as basically a hardware device that interacted between the core processor and the printer to allow a dot-matrix signature to be produced while the check was printed."
"It handled all the security issues associated with that and was very niche-oriented, working directly with credit unions," said Hagan. That solution, WyChecks, is now in use at about a thousand credit unions, and the company's overall line of products is being variously used by about 8,000 customers at 14,000 sites.
The product line grew along with the client list, Hagan said, citing in particular relationships with system integrators and core processors such as HP, Symitar and XP Systems and service bureau Credit Union On-Line.
"As we made inroads with credit unions, the core processors got wind of us and that's where a lot of our relationships are based now," Hagan said. "We moved into preprinted laser checks, then MICR, then to laser printing on blank check stock and on to digital images and storage."
And that's where Check 21 comes in. The new offering, WyTeller21, scans incoming checks and then populates the core system's member service screens with check data, confirms check totals, creates an electronic cash letter at day's end and forwards images to check processors, including the Federal Reserve.
The new teller-based check processing system uses a small footprint scanner at the front end, high-speed multipass scanners in the back office and a software engine from C&A Associates, whose remote item processing solutions are used at hundreds of credit unions and banks nationwide, Wycom Systems said.
The use of third-party software system is a new twist for Wycom, which normally develops its own such solutions in-house, Hagan said.
Founded in 1979, "they have a long history of having solid products and relationships and have been in business a long time," Hagan said, adding that the companies' cultures also were a fit.
"I'm a handshake kind of guy," he said. "We're big about vendor loyalty. It's the same with the hardware we use. Relationships are at the core of what we do."
For instance, he said, those relationships have driven product development, such as the creation of WyReceipts, a document production and storage solution created specifically for Credit Union On-Line about three years ago and now used by other customers, as well.
"Typically if one credit union-like APL Credit Union, the first to use WyTeller 21-needs our solution, others will, too," Hagan said.
Another company decision, this one not to expand Check 21 offerings into remote capture, also is an example of that philosophy.
The different scanners and software needed for that application are "not a good fit for us," Hagan said.
"But at the teller line, that's a different story," he said. "There we can provide new efficiencies. And that's what we do. We create efficiencies within the credit union workflow and workplace."
"We're not an IBM or an Apple. We're not a core processor, but we have what I feel has been a blessing for us," Hagan said. "We're a hardware and software company that has managed to be here for 20 years in the world of technology, longevity in an industry that has seen a lot of companies come and go."