As an early adopter of Check 21-enabling technologies in 2006, First National Bank of Omaha quickly reached the limits of its initial remote deposit capture (RDC) solution. "We rolled out our original solution to get us to market quickly," recalls Toby Asplin, the bank's strategic partnerships officer. "Then, as awareness of Check 21 grew, a wider range of customers started inquiring about solutions to meet their needs, too."
Early in 2007 the subsidiary of Omaha-based First National of Nebraska ($21 billion in total assets) began exploring options. "Our existing solution was delivered via an ASP model, but we wanted to bring the system in-house," Asplin relates. "At that time, very few software vendors offered the type of Web-enabled solution we wanted, so we only evaluated four options. Of those, Wausau Financial Systems [Mosinee, Wis.] was clearly the most familiar with check processing. And Wausau's Remote Capture was the only solution offering immediate integration with our new lockbox solution, which we were also in the process of deploying."
For the supporting infrastructure, First National elected to run physical Microsoft [Redmond, Wash.] IIS servers on the front end and virtualized IBM [Armonk, N.Y.] blade servers on the back end. "Originally we planned to complete the project in less than five months," Asplin says. "But two hurdles doubled the time frame. First, running virtual machines on blade servers in a high-security environment was relatively new for Wausau. Additionally, in mid-deployment, our 13 First National affiliates asked to be included on the platform. The combination of these two factors required more complicated integration and testing than is otherwise typical."
While the Wausau implementation proceeded, First National began evaluating point-of-service check capture devices. "Although we planned to support the most prominent devices on the market, we wanted to standardize by recommending a single, best-of-breed unit," Asplin explains. "Of course we were recommending a specific device for our original system, but we wanted a more cost-effective unit with improved speed, accuracy and reliability."
In side-by-side internal benchmarking of seven similarly rated devices, Epson's new CaptureOne check scanner stood out, according to Asplin. "CaptureOne had seven to 10 percent greater throughput overall, largely due to faster initialization and fewer MICR misreads," Asplin asserts. "Since we have customers who run close to a quarter million checks per month, seconds matter."
Unfortunately Wausau did not yet support the CaptureOne device, Asplin notes. So while First National awaited CaptureOne integration with Wausau's Remote Capture solution, the bank proceeded slowly with the roll out of its new RDC product in January 2008. After CaptureOne integration arrived in late 2008, First National's RDC clientele soared. "For 2009 we're on track to add about 50 percent to our RDC base," Asplin reports.
According to Asplin, First National's Wausau/CaptureOne solution operates so efficiently that it's required essentially no additional head count. "We did add one net new person," he confides. "But that position is really focused on implementing new business rather than supporting the RDC solution itself."
Now First National is exploring ways to use the system to provide even more value to clients. "For example, a few of our customers receive invoices or payment coupons with their checks," Asplin explains. "Some of these businesses and several of our respondent banks are exploring how they could use RDC as an in-house lockbox solution."
Going forward First National has asked Epson to double the speed of the CaptureOne device, from 90 documents per minute to 180, Asplin reveals. "We have some customers with large volume peaks," he notes. "As a workaround, we're supporting another vendor's device. But we'd prefer to tightly standardize on CaptureOne."
Still, the Wausau/Epson combination has been a home run, Asplin says. "With the speed and quality of our system, we're confident we're offering a complete solution that's difficult for even our largest competitors to beat," he relates.
Case Study SnapshotInstitution: First National Bank of Omaha, a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska (Omaha, Neb.).
Assets: $21 billion.
Business Challenge: Meet requests for remote deposit capture (RDC) from a broader range of customers by implementing a second-generation RDC system.
Solution: Wausau Financial Systems (Mosinee, Wis.); Remote Capture solution and Epson America (Division of Seiko Epson Corporation; Nagano, Japan) CaptureOne check scanner.
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio