Capturing business Featured

7:00pm EDT February 24, 2008

Do you spend afternoons in line at the bank? Do you know your bank tellers by name because you visit them every day? Do you stand in the line running through a list of things you could be doing at the office? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there is a way to avoid the lost time and frustration. Remote deposit capture is a tool business owners can use to deposit checks right from their office.

Remote deposit capture is an additional feature of online banking and cash management services. Businesses scan checks, creating electronic files to make a deposit, according to Maureen Murman, vice president of treasury management for FirstMerit Bank. For business owners, it provides a secure method of making a deposit to the bank, while saving time and adding convenience to their work day.

Smart Business spoke with Murman about the benefits of remote deposit capture and how to determine if the product is right for your company.

What is remote deposit capture?

Remote deposit capture (RDC) is a process used to scan checks into images in an electronic file to speed up the deposit process and increase overall productivity for companies. The business uses a specialized scanner to scan customer checks as they are received. The images are then combined in electronic files that are transmitted to the company’s bank. The bank uses the electronic images to process the checks through the banking system. The original checks never leave the business’s office and are destroyed when the processing is completed. The images, however, remain available to the company via an online system for future customer service inquiries and audits.

Who can utilize RDC?

Any company can use RDC. It may be more advantageous for companies who receive a large volume of checks or checks of large amounts. Business owners should meet with a treasury management banker to discuss the cash flow through their company in detail. It is crucial that the bank understands your business so that the banker can help you determine which services will be most beneficial for you. Finally, customers have to show that they are financially responsible. The bank has to have confidence in the financial integrity of the company.

How does utilizing RDC benefit the overall business?

Companies operate more efficiently: On the surface, it saves companies the time and expense of having to make a trip to the bank. This product frees the business owner and his or her employees to use their time more productively.

Consolidated banking: Many companies have more than one location. If RDC is used, then each location can scan the checks it receives to be deposited into a single account at one bank. This also means that the owner or accounts receivable manager at a home office can see all the images deposited into that account.

A company has a broader choice of banks: Because electronic files can be transferred to any banking location, a company can choose virtually any bank it wishes. This may allow the owner to negotiate better rates, loan terms and other deals that benefit his or her business.

Increased security: In some areas, it may not be safe for a person to leave the office with the checks and transport them to the bank. With RDC, the owner or employee doesn’t have to leave the office. It also may reduce the risk or company liability since the employees do not have to travel.

Time constraints are decreased: You can make deposits any time of the day. Most banks provide a longer banking day for RDC than branch office hours. Even after the extended RDC hours, you can make your deposit for posting the next day.

Errors are decreased: The RDC programs require that deposits balance before the process is completed. This decreases errors and makes audits less cumbersome as information is easily accessed.

Is there a risk of consumers’ personal information being compromised with this process?

A consumer’s checking account number is on the check whether the check is taken to a bank or scanned at a remote location. All programs are encrypted and password protected to ensure security and protection of information. The bank’s contract usually defines how the physical checks should be stored and then destroyed after a certain period of time.

Does utilizing RDC require a major financial investment?

The cost of scanners is similar to the cost of a modest PC or copier, and there are minimal increases in operating costs in most cases. The product can pay for itself very quickly by increasing productivity and decreasing transportation costs. The product also may speed up your cash inflow. It allows you to conveniently make deposits every day, providing you quicker access to money. This may reduce your borrowing costs or increase your interest income.

MAUREEN MURMAN is vice president of treasury management for FirstMerit Bank. Reach her at maureen.murman@firstmerit.com or (216) 694-5637.