Remote deposit has reached the stage where most businesses are aware of its existence and its basic advantages. Without remote deposit, businesses spend time and incur costs to manually prepare and process bank deposits and physically transport them to the bank. Manual processes can introduce errors on many levels; and particularly for small businesses, trips to the bank represent a significant commitment of staff time as well as transportation costs. With a scanner, appropriate software, and Internet access, depositing can be accomplished electronically while allowing for review of data prior to depositing. Using a scanner can also create an image archives of deposited items. As a result, good funds are more quickly available, record-keeping becomes more accurate, and personnel and transportation costs are greatly reduced.
Not long ago, remote deposit was a single-function, 'one size fits all' service. Recent innovations have expanded the product category to provide many new features and services. Remote deposit scanners and software now permit capture of coupons and invoices, automatically associate checking accounts with particular clients, support quality reviews at multiple locations, and offer downloadable reporting usable by businesses' accounting systems. So, although the decision to deposit remotely is simple, choosing the service and provider that will best support your business is not.
SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT REMOTE DEPOSIT
1. Does your current bank provide a solution that meets your needs? Do you use multiple banks or might you change your bank? If so, consider a 'Bank-Agnostic' solution.
2. Do you want all your information stored locally? If so, consider a 'thick client' or PC-installed software solution.
3. Do you want to be able to segregate scanning from approval prior to depositing?
4. Do you want server-based long-term archiving? Do you want to avoid software maintenance? If so, consider a 'thin client' or web-based solution.
5. Do you want quicker funding? Some providers advance good funds prior to checks clearing, which may be of interest if your bank does not.
6. Are there limits on the quantity or dollar amount of checks that can be remotely deposited?
7. Does the solution offer opportunities for savings on fees? For example, will you be charged by deposit and item? Or, can you deposit an image cash letter directly to the bank to reduce fees?
8. Can the user interface and data capture solution be customized for your particular industry?
9. Does the solution offer the following features?
Auto populating of amount field, ease of use (user interface, minimal training requirements), prevention of duplicate presentment, transaction balancing, security (user, system, and transaction level), multiple scanner options, access to a help desk resource for technical assistance, economic billing and pricing to reduce or eliminate up front capital costs, integration of the deposit transaction with accounting applications (i.e. QuickBooks, Peachtree, Microsoft), and reference resources (setup, operation, maintenance) in CD or online format.
PRICE AND COST
Pricing in the industry is complex. Banks or multiple-service providers sometimes offer remote deposit pricing that is subsidized by other costs in the total relationship. Lower cost options may not provide added features that could result in savings in a business' own costs in personnel or technology. Some solutions rely upon one-time licensing fees, avoiding ongoing costs, while most others offer a low initial cost with a fee-per-transaction, pay-as-you-go option. Support after the sale may or may not be included. Equipment costs and compatibility with your installed hardware and software are also worth a look. It is most important to ensure that all associated costs be understood and considered in your review of the price a provider offers. The cheapest solution is not always the most cost-effective.
Many businesses are now recognizing the savings that can be achieved and the opportunity to eliminate the inconvenience of driving to the bank each day. Although the current remote deposit market is focused on banks and their larger corporate clients, the movement to penetrate the small business and retail market has begun. We soon expect to see lower priced remote deposit options for smaller businesses, as well as specialized solutions for specific industries. Remote deposit decisions will become more complex as more options become available, but the net result will be much greater efficiency for all businesses whose customers pay by check.