PORTLAND, Ore.-Teamsters Council #37 FCU has developed a way to offer mobile remote deposit check capture that will only cost this small CU a few hundred dollars.

"I was sitting around one day thinking how the credit union could afford mobile remote deposit capture," said Mark Freels, manager of the $50-million CU. "I said, 'Why can't we do this ourselves?'"

Freels then took front and back pictures of one of his own checks with his iPhone and sent them to his work e-mail address. "We got the MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) ink and printed the pictures out and said let's process the check. It worked fine."

The next step was to make the process "more functional and into a service." Freels partnered with a web designer who made a downloadable app that creates a small data entry page that fits on smartphone screens. The CU's contract marketing firm wrote the app copy and a local attorney handled the terms and conditions information.

"Members execute the app, enter their e-mail address, name on the account, account number, amount of the check, and then attach the images and send a secure e-mail to my staff, who then make any decisions on the check, like whether to put a hold on it, and process it."


Not Rocket Science

Freels said it's "not rocket science, just a substitute check. My staff process the check the same way they do an over-the-counter check. Any small credit union that thinks about this a little bit can do it."

While the approach saves Teamsters Council #37 a significant capital expense-with Freels noting that buying mobile RDC apps from vendors can cost tens of thousands of dollars with recurring monthly charges-he acknowledged the credit union's system is labor intensive.

"We have staff processing time in this for sure, something you don't have with the vendor applications," said Freels. "We just introduced this and if it gets really big, I may have to go with a vendor. But for now it gives a small credit union a way to offer remote deposit capture for mobile devices and remain relevant with its members. I have online banking, mobile, and now mobile RDC. I have all that the big banks have, plus better service."

Teamsters Council #37's home-grown RDC process does not have all the bells and whistles of vendor apps, such as notifying members if the image taken is of acceptable quality.

"Certainly what we have is not as slick, and you do sacrifice a few things, but I don't think members care and we now have this service everyone wants. We had a problem-one many small credit unions face-how do you afford a service that's a hot button with consumers but you don't have the money. We solved that for RDC."

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