ATM Image Capture Marks Mazuma Tech Progress
Leritz is director of member service support for Mazuma Credit Union, a $411 million institution that earlier this year became the first CU and one of only a couple financial institutions in the Kansas City, Mo., market to offer remote check capture from ATMs.
"It was the weirdest thing. My teller got the notice even before we ever physically touched the check," Leritz said. "That's because it already had been processed by Southwest Corporate. That never would have happened with an envelope deposit."
Mazuma now offers remote check deposit capture in nine of its 19 ATMs that already had check scanners installed, and will likely add it to the other locations as those machines are replaced over time.
Along with the added security and member convenience, since they get access to their funds more quickly, in the first six months the credit union already has seen about $11,000 in savings by reducing courier service to the machines by half, Leritz said.
"We hope to double those savings in 2010, and that's hard costs. That doesn't include the teller time it takes to look at those checks," she said.
Mazuma was one of the first customers of Check 21 specialist Bluepoint Solutions to launch the ATM check-capture service, and it was not without its challenges.
"There are a lot of pieces involved-between us, and our corporate and Bluepoint and (ATM maker) Diebold," she said. "Trying to get a full understanding of exactly how all these pieces would fit and work together was the hardest part."
It began as a large committee effort, watching the transaction by conference call as it moved from ATM through clearing, but gradually the group got smaller and after three or four more test runs, the service was quietly launched.
"To me this is a back office operation, not something you advertise to your membership necessarily," Leritz said. "The machines already were accepting checks, and now the members see an image of
the check on the screen and on their receipt. They say, 'This is cool,' and that's about it."
She said check amounts have ranged from a dollar to $10,000 or more, and that the CU doesn't impose a size limit, although checks of over $1,000 are reviewed by a staffer before being sent to Southwest for processing.
Mazuma's low-key approach to the ATM check scanning solution resonates with Bluepoint's experience with its client list of about 1,200 financial institutions, about 1,100 of which are credit unions.
"My sense is that adoption of this is going to be a gradual thing," said Dick Drew, the company's chief marketing officer. "It has a lot do with the population of ATM machines already out there. I don't know the exact numbers, but I believe that the percentage of them that are image enabled is relatively low."
Installation of image-enabled ATMs would have to follow when the existing machines fail or are amortized, Drew said. He also cited the initial technical challenges of interfacing with the machine and the processing pathway.
"But we worked together to get it done," Drew said. "It wasn't that bad and now that we're past that, we're making it generally available."
Mazuma already used Bluepoint Solutions' software for check scanning at the teller line and now is considering expanding into home and small business remote capture in 2010, Leritz said.
Drew said demand is far stronger for remote capture at the home and small business level and that "Mazuma is definitely on the leading edge with the ATM service."
But it's also not the first time out there for the 53,000-member institution.
"We're on Facebook and Twitter, and we actually started mobile banking eight years ago. It didn't go well, but now because of the popularity of iPhones, it's started again and we relaunched our mobile banking service a couple years ago," Leritz said.
"Credit unions have mostly an older membership and we want to attract the tech-savvy younger generation," Leritz said.
Drew at Bluepoint Solutions also sees Check 21 technology moving in different tracks. "Branch capture was the first wave. Next was the teller line, but now we have a different set of dynamics," he said, with the emphasis expanding from back-office efficiency to front-line competitive strategy.
The next step for his California-based company?
"Taking mobile phone pictures of the front and back of the check, running an applet on your phone and sending the image to the credit union," Drew said. "We're working on that now."