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Input Devices The Almighty Buck Technology

Deposit Checks By iPhone 293

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bad-day-to-be-a-bank-teller dept.
kaychoro writes to mention that at least one privately held bank is planning on removing a little bit more legwork for the consumer by allowing the electronic submission of paper checks via a new iPhone app. The app would allow users to take a picture of the front and back of the check and submit that to the depository. "Customers will not have to mail the check to the bank later; the deposit will be handled entirely electronically, and the bank suggests voiding the check and filing or discarding it. But to reduce the potential for fraud, only customers who are eligible for credit and have some type of insurance through USAA will be permitted to use the deposit feature. Mr. Peacock said that about 60 percent of the bank's customers qualify."
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Deposit Checks By iPhone

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  • Not entirely new (Score:5, Informative)

    by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Monday August 10, 2009 @12:58PM (#29012623)

    USAA has allowed customers to scan and electronically deposit checks for quite a while. The only new thing here is the iPhone app. Still, it's pretty cool, especially compared to mailing checks in. (For those who don't know, USAA doesn't have physical branches. They were established by and for members of the military, and they've pretty much always been pioneers of remote banking, first by mail and phone, and now over the internet.)

  • by Guse (1283076) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:11PM (#29012847)

    Those were an important platform.

    I have to admit that my sarcasmometer was registering at 50/50. I couldn't figure out if you were being facetious or not. This leads me to believe you were, so I'm sorry.

    P.S. Why did Chrome's spell-checker accept "sarcasmometer"? Does this exist? Can I get one?

  • by Tanispyre (690330) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:12PM (#29012861)
    USAA (United Serviceman Automobile Association) is not your normal bank that has offices all over where you can make a deposit. It is a banking service available to military personnel and their dependents. It has always been set up so that servicemen deployed around the world can access their accounts. Before they wrote the iPhone app, members could scan their cheques and email them to the bank for credit, this is just an extension of that service, nothing new.
  • Re:Funny (Score:5, Informative)

    by Amouth (879122) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:15PM (#29012923)

    USAA is a hell of alot larger than just a bank..

    This concept isn't new - I'm a USAA member.. (USAA member ship is restricted to Armed Forces and their Dependants (used to be Only Officers int he Armed Forces)) From the start several years ago (8-9) when they opened the Banking part of USAA they allowed Check deposit via a Scanner or via Fax.

    the idea of using an IPhone app is no big deal as it's a decent res camera.. and they already have the check image processing software in place (to handle the fax and scans)..

    I've never used them for banking.. BUT for insurance.. they are by far the best i've ever seen

  • by cosmicpossum (554246) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:16PM (#29012939)
    United SERVICES Automobile Association
  • by Markemp (562755) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:19PM (#29012997)
    You need an account at USAA to make a deposit. You need to be in the military or one of their dependents to open an account. You can only deposit to that account with this app. It's not like there are a lot of holes to the process.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:20PM (#29013005) Homepage Journal
    That and people who want to buy things as anonymously as possible, cash is still the only real anonymous payment method left.

    As per cash only places, they may very well be cash only to avoid having to pay sales tax, which in certain places in the world(ie Europe), ends up being a lot of money.
  • Re:Neat idea, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DarkSarin (651985) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:22PM (#29013045) Homepage Journal

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    You don't seem to know much about USAA...

    They are, if nothing else, extremely cautious about that sort of thing from my experience. I bank with them (as well as have my auto insurance through them). I wouldn't switch away for some imagined slight. Not after having dealt with the HELL that other banks put you through if there is some sort of customer service needed. USAA is by far and away the BEST customer service bank I have EVER dealt with. Bar none. Nope, I'm not switching banks.

    I've been using their deposit@home service for a while now, and it's great. This is just a minor evolution of that (camera instead of scanner), and I don't see much to make me think it's a huge difference.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Otto (17870) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:26PM (#29013121) Homepage Journal

    USAA and a few other banks have been doing this for ages.

    I know that USAA in particular already has a system that lets users scan checks themselves with a PC and a scanner, and then can deposit the check via email or the website or what have you, simply by sending the image file to them.

    So the only thing interesting here is really a) they're going to do it via an iPhone app, and b) the iPhone picture quality is now considered good enough for this sort of thing.

  • Re:Checks (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:32PM (#29013249) Journal
    If you don't have 12 paper cheques around here, you can't get a lease. Need them to set up direct deposit of your pay, need them to set up direct deposit for your health insurance, need them for all sorts of things.
  • by An Ominous Cow Erred (28892) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#29013377)

    "Cash only" establishments are just trying to get by.

    They're not evading taxes, they're avoiding the service charge that Visa/Mastercard charges them on every transaction. In most businesses profit margins are very small, and the extra 5%-10% that the credit card companies skim off the transaction (particularly on small purchased) can eat up the entire profit.

    Many businesses depend on cash customers because they make zero profit on credit card customers -- they just accept credit cards to increase their volume so to bring overall costs down, and hope and pray that they get enough cash customers to make a profit.

    You know that "cash back" that credit card companies give you on each purchase? They're just giving you a cut of the money that they're wringing out of the merchant.

  • Re:Checks (Score:3, Informative)

    by arth1 (260657) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#29013381) Homepage Journal

    In your country, do contractors and repair people carry plastic card terminals around with them?

    No, they hand you a bill with a giro attached to it. You then either add your account number to the debit side of the giro, sign it and take it (or mail it) to your bank, or pay electronically to the account number listed on the credit side of the giro.

    In either case, there's no artificial "hold" time (which is a lame excuse for excessive float) -- the recipient gets the money immediately, as the transfer is initiated from the payer, not the payee.

    I believe the Scandinavian countries abolished cheques back in the early 90s (along with pagers and cassette tapes), and most of Europe is now cheque free.

  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#29013393) Homepage
    I'm a USAA member, and I know for a fact that many USAA members have needs above and beyond a "normal bank" customer. Imagine trying to buy a new car in Florida when you are deployed to Iraq. Think of how difficult it is to have both of your signatures on one sheet of paper... its not a big example, but it is the kind of thing you run into. Think about this, I once worked in an on-base video rental store - we had a guy rent a movie and then get orders that night to deploy... the computer just kept racking up late fees, even automatically reporting to his CO (also deployed) - we cleared it up after a month or two, once someone noticed. Military situations are just plain different.
  • Re:Checks (Score:3, Informative)

    by teg (97890) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:47PM (#29013503) Homepage

    In your country, do contractors and repair people carry plastic card terminals around with them?

    No, you get the bill and pay with giro [wikipedia.org]. These are almost exclusively handled electronically these days - although earlier mailing them in was common. Or delivering them to the bank. Cheques haven't been used here in Norway since the early eighties. Some delivery services (packages, pizza, ...) have portable terminals, though.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:55PM (#29013625) Journal

    You're both right:

    The name is United SERVICES Automobile Association. It is an inter-insurance exchange under Texas law.

    The business is insurance and financial services for Army service personnel and their dependents. Army officer & NCO personnel are insured by USAA proper, enlisted, dependants, and other "associate members" by subsidiaries. So if you have to "have some sort of insurance from USAA" (itself) and "approximately 60% of USAA's customers qualify" it means you are a current or former US army OFFICER or NCO.

    Because of their unusual customer base, USAA is at much less risk for fraud on the part of the customers than other financial institutions.

    They're also less risk of things like missed or late payments: Military officers are used to being punctual, accurate, and responsible when it comes to keeping their commitments: Their lives and those of their subordinates, friends, and countrymen often depend on it, as does their continued employment and career advancement - being this way is their JOB. That translates into drastically lower interest rates on loans and insurance and higher rates on savings. (Doesn't hurt that the "bank"(s) are a federal thrift and a credit union, either.)

  • Re:Bank disputes (Score:2, Informative)

    by deathlyslow (514135) <wmasmith&gmail,com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:07PM (#29013797) Homepage
    I know of several times that I've been forced to produce a canceled check, either to prove I paid something or to prove how much was paid. Most banks now just take pictures of the checks anyway. I have to pay an extra fee to get the canceled checks back from the bank. My wife is an accountant so she is predisposed to having a paper trail.
  • Re:State of the art (Score:2, Informative)

    by GvG (776789) <ge@van.geldorp.nl> on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:11PM (#29013859)
    Over here (Europe) I'd just tell my bank (electronically) to transfer some amount from my account to hers. Banks don't charge you for that here. Actually, since this is a recurring payment I'd set it up once as a recurring payment and be done with it.
  • Re:Funny (Score:3, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:19PM (#29013983)

    I'm a USAA member, and while it isn't some big technical feat of wizardry... I love being able to deposit checks from home. When first released it was Windows only, but they promised a Mac version "soon" and actually delivered on that promise in a timely manner.

    They're one of the few businesses I can say I'm completely happy with. They actually still buy into the "quaint" principle that they exist to serve their customers.

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:20PM (#29014007) Homepage Journal

    P.S. Why did Chrome's spell-checker accept "sarcasmometer"? Does this exist? Can I get one?

    Yeah. Like everything else, you can buy a sarcasmometer on eBay.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:24PM (#29014067) Journal

    > This and the unicorns.

    You know, I had to go out and have a custom unicorn horn tip cover made, just for my own safety. Those things are pointy!

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:35PM (#29014233)

    >the extra 5%-10% that the credit card companies skim off the transaction

    You misspelled "one or two percent."

    Can you even show me a merchant account agreement that charges the low end of your claim?

  • by Albanach (527650) on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:40PM (#29014327) Homepage

    How does the UK system differ?

    Almost every customer bill in the UK is paid by Direct Debit. The organisation automatically draws the money straight from your bank account. I know some firms in the US will do this, but the UK version has some important safeguards, absent from the US system.

    For variable amounts, (like your electricity bill) the organisation has to give you fourteen days notice before making the deduction from your account.

    You can cancel the Direct Debit at any time.

    Banks vet organisations heavily before they are allowed to initiate Direct Debits. I've been through this process, and it is quite a thorough auditing.

    Customers are protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee [bacs.co.uk]. Every bank that allows customers to have Direct Debits has to adhere to this. In effect it says if the organisation made a mistake, debiting the wrong amount, or on the wrong date, you tell the bank and the bank will immediately refund the money plus any charges incurred as a result, recouping from the company.

    It's this guarantee that has made it so successful, for customers who don't have to worry about making payments, it all happens automatically. And for companies the big advantage is cost. To collect a direct debit costs pennies and the system can be entirely automated. The savings in bank charges are substantial and in staff time are enourmous.

    If you move to a different bank, you need to sign one form and all your direct debits should be moved to your new account. You don't need to contact any of your suppliers.

  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @03:01PM (#29014665) Homepage Journal

    I can, if I can dig it up. I've since cancelled the account.

    Very low-volume businesses get charged this. I ran a photography studio, and probably received 5-10 transactions per month via credit card. I was charged 7.2% plus fees for this service.

  • Re:Checks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Monday August 10, 2009 @03:09PM (#29014757) Homepage Journal

    The giro system is still superior to cheques / drafts -- it's a "push" system instead of a "pull", and for that reason a lot less prone to fraud. Typical check-fraud strategies don't work with giro, because the transfer is initiated from the payor's side, not the payee's.

    It's unfortunate that the US never transitioned over to the giro system, but my understanding is that it's something that occurred in Europe post-war, when they had an opportunity to change things around that the US never got. Cheques and drafts are an older concept.

    Just because both systems involve paper doesn't mean they're in any way equal. Nor does it mean that an electronic system would be, just for being electronic, superior to one or both: it's quite easy, actually, to make an electronic system that's less secure and more prone to fraud than a paper-based one. I'd much rather see a paper-based giro system in the US than an electronic version of the "pull"-based check, where anyone can suck money out of your account using nothing but the ABA routing and account numbers.

  • Re:Checks (Score:3, Informative)

    by xaxa (988988) on Monday August 10, 2009 @03:27PM (#29014995)

    In the UK for paying larger organisations regularly (possibly a varying amount) we use "Direct Debit". You put your bank account number on the form, post it to the company. The company takes the agreed amount of money on the agreed date. If there are any problems you can ask the bank to reverse it (and the company will e.g. send a paper bill). You can stop the payments at any time.
    It's the normal system for paying a phone bill, electricity, TV, membership fees, charity donations, etc.

    For regular payments that are the same, and especially to individuals or small companies, a "standing order" is an instruction to a bank to make a payment of a certain amount every month. Many land agents will ask for this to be set up to pay rent.

    We still have cheques, although I've only written one so far this year. I reckon my chequebook will last longer than cheques are used in this country.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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