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Samuel Golbach, WAUSAU Financial Systems
Samuel Golbach, WAUSAU Financial Systems
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What's the Better Capture Solution: Branch or Teller?

The pros and cons of branch capture and teller capture paperless check processing options.

In today's check processing environment, branch capture and teller capture are among the most common paperless practices. Growth in branch capture has surged in recent years with most financial institutions now offering it in some form. But teller capture is emerging as the most advantageous solution. So which is the best for a financial institution?

Actually, a one-size-fits-all solution doesn't exist. A financial institution's ultimate decision rests as much with technology options as it does with capably serving the respective needs of customers. Since each organization differs, decision makers must determine which processing environment and customer-service option is best.

For instance, financial institutions must consider the volume of checks at the branch and its location, deployment costs and risk. Still, institutions often find themselves facing two options: capture images and truncate them by the batch at the back counter at the branch, or capture them at the teller line as the transaction is occurring.

Here are the pros and cons of each option - and these should make it clear why most financial institutions have a branch capture solution but why teller capture is catching on.

Branch Capture:

Pros:

  • It's less expensive than teller capture in terms of capital expenditures. In branch capture, the personal computer and scanner are coupled to a central server. Branch capture needs just one device and an additional work station while teller capture requires about four-to-six work stations outfitted with scanners.
  • Deployment is faster because less training time is required, branch operators become familiar with processing checks and customer-service disruptions are limited, among other factors.
  • The centrally designed system provides support for various scanner models, speeds and pocket configurations and tools to track work as it moves through the workflow.
  • Elimination of or reduced cost of maintaining courier service to deliver paper checks, which represents a considerable savings for banks.
  • Reallocation of back-office personnel to tasks that add more value.
Cons:

  • Elevates risk since items must be walked to a back-counter system, raising the possibility of misplacing a document or compromising the transaction integrity.
  • Back-office savings and efficiency are less.

Teller Capture:

Pros:

  • Back-office savings from teller capture are greater since all of the work is balanced by the teller rather than in the back office. One large east coast bank with more than 200 branches says it saves 20 minutes per day per teller with teller capture, as well as 15 minutes per day per branch at close-out time.
  • Over-the-counter document imaging captures transactions at the moment they're presented and makes cash tickets, loan payments and checks, among other internal documents, instantly available and auditable.
  • A "Green," or paperless, environment develops as paper-printed internal documents are replaced by virtual documents, greatly eliminating printing costs and reducing transportation/courier costs.
  • Tellers spend more face time with the customer; indeed, an estimated 70 percent of deposits are handled by tellers.
  • Transaction-processing time improves overall as teller capture aids in clearing and posting; at the same time, it reduces loss and error. The large New England bank says teller capture has virtually eliminated account adjustments.
  • Flags potentially fraudulent items with the presenter still in the branch and, in a related matter, eases access and clarifies trails for audits.
Cons:

  • Teller capture may have a larger up-front capital expense since each teller workstation is equipped with a scanner and imaging software A perception persists that lines at branches will be longer if tellers are responsible for scanning checks; but users of teller capture note that tellers are scanning and not keying any information, and that accounts for half the transaction work.
  • Rolling out teller capture requires more resources for solution deployment and teller training.

So what does all of this mean? It reinforces the view that no one-size-fits-all approach works for every financial institution when it comes to paperless check processing. Myriad factors must be considered that depend on a financial institution's size, volume, branches and the like. In the end, branch capture may prove most advantageous. Or, teller capture. Or, perhaps, even both in a phased-approach solution.

About the Author: Samuel Golbach is vice president of Deposit Management & Paperless Solutions at WAUSAU Financial Systems, a leader in distributed payment and document-processing solutions.

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