Remote Check Deposit in the Great White North

I was happy to see that CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) launched remote cheque deposit through its CIBC Mobile Banking app just a few weeks ago. With this feature—enabled by SAP Mobile Services technology—you simply endorse your cheque, and then use the bank’s app plus the camera on your smartphone or tablet to snap a pic of the front and back, and then send the photo to the bank for verification and deposit. CIBC has a great web page to explain the process.

The technology isn’t new—banks in the U.S. lead the way with similar offerings starting a few years ago. The Check 21 law, which took effect in 2004, cleared the way, making it possible for banks to process cheques based on images. Before that, financial institutions had to be in possession of the actual piece of paper before they could process the associated payment. Mobile devices with cameras provided the consumer technology to make it easy. Now, dozens of U.S. banks and credit unions offer this service—including SAP Mobile Services customer RBS Citizens bank.

Canada has followed the U.S. with its Image Rule Project, implementing the final phase that allowed for remote deposit capture in August of this year. Canada is, like the U.S., also a nation of check-writers (though that’s been declining in both countries in recent years), and affluent enough that most citizens have smartphones—62% of the population, according to the comScore report 2013 Canada Digital Future in Focus.

I would think that this is probably just the first in what’s likely to be a series of mobile banking services we’ll see from North American banks. For example, what about using this same image capture technology for bill pay? You could take a photo of your utility bills, and an app could grab your account information, and transfer the proper payment by the due date.

This is also one more way we’re moving away from paper and toward electronic payments, which is better for the environment (using less paper and also less fuel to transport it) and better for economies, which benefit from not having all that capital trapped in transit.

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