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Anatomy of a Check Image Archive

A tide of legislative and technology initiatives cause confusion over where in the chain of collection check images should be created.

A tide of legislative and technology initiatives has caused confusion over where in the chain of collection check images should be created.

KeyCorp is covering all bets by ensuring that its infrastructure can handle any and all possibilities. With its new central check image repository, Key has positioned itself to act upon market opportunities. "We're very much, at this point, engaged in creating that overall capability and associated flexibility," said Michael Barnum, executive vice president of banking services at Cleveland-based KeyCorp. "We want to be able to capture the items at the earliest point of presentment, be it with our clients, KeyCenters, ATMs-wherever we're first in a position to touch it."

Even the cash vault is under consideration. "It may be economically feasible to capture the checks at that point," said David Harris, vice president of Key Technology Services.

KeyCorp maintains four primary capture sites around the U.S. The largest three, comprising 80 to 90 percent of total check volume,are already capturing images. "Those are the sites that we are image-enabling to start with, and making sure that we can cover all of our volume, both in clearing items as well as the items coming in from branches," said Harris.

The fourth site will go live shortly. "It has moved in a very rapid fashion within the corporation given the magnitude of the change," said Barnum. "We're certainly in the home stretch."

On the hardware side, IBM helped KeyCorp add cameras to its existing IBM 3890 check sorters. Then, the bank selected and implemented a distributed image capture system from Carreker, Dallas. "The software takes the images off the camera and allows for a temporary storage facility until we can then transmit those images into a central repository," said Harris. "That provided a lot of flexibility to Key, given our geographic dispersion throughout the country."

Mobius Management Systems, Rye, N.Y., supplies the central repository system that retains images of checks, deposit tickets and related documents. The archive also contains other enterprise-wide databases, including report output that had previously been stored in various internal repositories, and customer statement images. "We are in the process of putting all customer statements in there, as well as having converted seven years worth of customer statement history that was in another repository," said Harris. "We have completed that, and it's now into the central enterprise-wide archive."

Mobius ViewDirect, a PC-based application, provides direct access to statements, reports and check images from any location within Key. The application is used by loan officers, call center agents, back-room operations staff, and others having the appropriate security access.

KeyCorp will be able to write or buy custom software that takes advantage of the multipurpose archive.

"They have a new Java-based API that will help to facilitate internal-external interaction with the archive, through other internally-developed or vendor applications," said Harris. "We'd pull information from Mobius, or we'd have various APIs that would allow us to put new information into Mobius."

The enterprise-wide check image infrastructure offers KeyCorp four principal benefits. First, it will increase speed-to-data and enhance customer service capabilities. Second, it will allow expense reduction from redefined workflows and streamlined operations. Third, it creates new revenue opportunities on the consumer and corporate side. Finally, it allows KeyCorp to participate in new opportunities as they arise, whether enabled by Check 21 legislation or by industry alliances such as SVPCo's planned Image Exchange, in which KeyCorp will be an initial participant.

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