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Bank Automates Research Operation

Prosperity Bank's image archive is the first step of image-enabling its entire check operation.

Prosperity Bank, Springfield, Va., pictures a faster record-keeping system through imaging. The bank is creating an archive of data images to cut theamount of time required for research and customer service. To do so, it's installed Re:Search, from Indianapolis-based Financialware, whose software products link check, report and transaction processing with electronic commerce and other applications.

Re:Search records images of checks, deposit slips and other items and stores them in archives that allow far speedier retrieval than film or microfiche.

The addition of Re:Search is part of an upgrade to check operations. "It was time to replace our check transport. Obviously it makes sense to move to imaging at the same time. We are getting ready to add Internet banking and wanted our imaging solution compatible with that," said Phyllis Schneider, vice president of operations and electronic banking at $63 million Prosperity. The bank plans to offer online banking later this year.

Prosperity had previously relied on a PC-based document retrieval system for some archives. Records were also stored on microfiche and microfilm. But finding any given item that way is time-consuming, and "the quality of copies off film-sometimes they're not readable at all," Schneider said. With imaging, "it's like seeing the actual document."

Providing a copy of a five-year-old check to a customer, which would take weeks under the old system, is now done in seconds with Re:Search. Complying with a subpoena requiring access to thousands of checks several years old formerly took a month; with imaging it's done in days. The software also allows the bank to easily e-mail or fax a document to a customer, or provide a spreadsheet to commercial account holders.

The system keeps data on a server until its hard drive is filled. Then records can be moved onto CD-ROMs or other long-term storage devices. Prosperity expects to store about two years' worth of information on the server before that's necessary.

Prosperity expects to move to image-based statements and online banking by the third quarter of this year. Image-based statements will save the bank time and money by cutting postage costs and eliminating manual counting and sorting of checks, Schneider said. The software also allows the bank to customize statement formats. For example, businesses may receive statements on three-hole-punched pages for easy storage in a binder, or visually impaired customers can get enlarged images of their checks.

Once Prosperity launches online banking, customers can receive statements via e-mail. E-mailed statements arrive sooner than paper statements, and contain fewer pages without a pile of canceled checks. Businesses can receive statements on CD-ROMs.

Prosperity had licensed Financialware reporting and bulk filing software several years ago. That experience helped Financialware win Prosperity's imaging business. "We knew from our previous experience with Financialware they would provide support if it becomes necessary," said Schneider.

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