WALLINGFORD, Conn. – Constitution State Corporate has been keeping its Check 21 efforts relatively quiet, but the results are now emerging and the corporate seems to have its members ahead of the game for image exchange. The $1.6 billion corporate has one of its largest members, Charter Oak FCU, up and running with image exchange at its new branch in Willimantic, Connecticut. The $433 million Charter Oak began transmitting items to Constitution last month. It is using Constitution’s Branch Item Capture solution which is driven by VSoft Corp’s Check 21 suite. The images are being delivered via EndPoint Exchange which will at some point bring Constitution the ability to exchange images with 4,000 institutions nationwide. Dan Poulin, director of business development for Constitution, said CharterOak wanted to start its new branch off right, that meant training its new staff on the new exchange system, not the old paper-based way. “Constitution’s solution scans, endorses, encodes and performs automatic balancing of all items. We are also seeing a cost savings in the fact that we did not have to engage a courier for this branch,” said Charter Oak FCU CEO Larry Hertell. Charter Oak is scanning checks in the back office and transmitting to Constitution a few times a day. The corporate said it is encouraging its CUs to transmit periodically during the day so phone and Internet lines don’t get bogged down at the end of the day with multiple CUs sending all the day’s items. “We are finding most of the credit unions, even the big guys, will stop their work periodically throughout the day, scan them and send them to us,” said Poulin. What about the concept of tellers scanning items right at the teller desk? That was a vision many Check 21 experts have been advancing since the law passed. Poulin doesn’t think that concept has arrived just yet. “I don’t know if that’s necessary for most credit unions. The downside is the cost of the machinery. We’re not sure it makes sense to install this machinery at each of the teller stations,” said Poulin. He said given that the back-office scanners typically scan 30 to 180 items (front and back) per minute and that some branches might only see less than 100 items per day, the cost of multiple teller scanners is hard to justify. Constitution said one of the key advantages of its Check 21 readiness is out-of-state members utilizing branch capture will now get 100% next day availability of funds, as its in-state members do now. “For some big credit unions that could be huge numbers. It might be the difference of $5 or $10 million in interest,” he said. Also, image exchange allows fraudulent items to be identified faster and eliminates the problems caused by bad weather and catastrophic events. “If we have a huge snow storm on the West Coast, lots of shops close early and a fraudulent item from the West Coast might not be returned to us in a timely manner. Right now we have to encode it, send it to the Fed. Fed puts it on a plane, puts it through their sorter and it is sent to the credit union out there. They have to say yes it’s a good item, they pay it, it goes back on a plane to District 1 Fed and back to Constitution. With inclement weather it could take five days,” said Poulin. Constitution hopes to roll out its Branch Item Capture solution to a number of CUs throughout the year. “It’s been said the shift to image exchange is going to be a long marathon, not a sprint. We’re proud to be a leader in this technology,” said Constitution President/CEO Robert Nealon. -pgentile@cutimes.com