[AI] Scanning money

Shiv shivraheja at gmail.com
Sun Feb 10 12:28:20 EST 2008

indianexpress.com :: Scanning money

Scanning money

Posted online: Sunday, February 10, 2008 at 1006 hrs IST

NO NEED to visit a branch or an ATM-soon you may be able to deposit cheques by scanning them at home and sending them electronically to your bank.

This is possible because of the US' Cheque Clearing for the 21st Century Act, passed in 2003, which allows banks to exchange electronic images of cheques.
Already about half of all cheques are scanned by businesses or the banks they are deposited into and not shipped in bags back to the banks on which they
were drawn.

Fiserv, the big transaction services company, has announced a new software that will enable banks to let home users deposit cheques by scanning them. It
already has a similar service for small and medium businesses.

The technology has been debugged through several years of working with businesses, and meanwhile consumers increasingly have scanners at home, largely in
the form of all-in-one printer units.

To use the service, consumers would sign onto their bank's Web site, activate a piece of software, type in the amount, and then scan the front and back
side of each cheque they want to deposit. The bank has the option of immediately sending it to be cleared or have a human review it first.

Springhetti said that some banks may charge an extra fee for this service, but others may give it free to customers. He expects it will be especially popular
among brokerage firms and banks that deal with more affluent customers.

Fraud, of course, is an issue. A scanner can't detect all the anti-fraud features now built into paper cheques, such as special stock and watermarks. Banking
groups are developing new anti-fraud technologies that can be detected by scanners, but these have not been widely deployed.

Still, Springhetti said there are ways to combat fraud. Fiserv and others do have software meant to analyse images for signs of fakery. And there are other
models that look for suspicious patterns of behaviour that may indicate fraud.

Put me down in the category of people who would be glad to use this sort of thing, assuming it was free. Diverting myself to make a deposit in the bank
adds nothing to my life.

But it also shows that there is something seriously out of whack about the way the banking system has evolved.

In the electronic age, there really isn't a need to use paper at all to get money from one bank's computer to another bank's computer. But the system of
routing and account numbers used for direct deposit is simply too cumbersome to use for payments. It can't be that hard to figure out a better way. But
for now, we're either going to the bank or trying to get our scanners to work right.
- Saul Hansell (NYT)


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