Viewpointe Archive Services LLC provides check image storage and exchange services to 11 leading financial institutions in the U.S. The limited liability company is owned by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, U.S. Bancorporation, SunTrust Bank, and IBM, along with its latest member, Wells Fargo & Company. In addition, Viewpointe currently provides services to six other non-owner financial institutions.
"We've got all 11 members moving down a path to being able to share with each other during 2005," says Gerry Chambers, chief administrative officer, Viewpointe Archive Services, LLC. "We're moving very fast toward adoption because they're so much alike in terms of how they use images."
But don't call Viewpointe a consortium. "Consortia have a track record of not being very successful," notes Chambers. "We directly attacked all of those problems."
First and foremost, unsuccessful consortia have suffered from a lack of commitment by their members, Chambers suggests. "In the early consortia, banks would put in investment, but hold their volume out," he says. "Nobody ever got scale or mass."
By contrast, the owners of Viewpointe have committed to put their entire volume through the system. "To be an owner of Viewpointe, you have to commit to all of your volume," says Chambers. "Not some piece of it, but all of it."
Similarly, the owner banks have to commit personnel to Viewpointe, such that executives work for the entity itself, not for the bank. "We have a totally independent management structure," says Chambers. "We brought in a management team run independently of the five bank owners."
Finally, the management team hopes to maintain an effective decision-making process by limiting the number of owners in the venture. "We only have five bank owners, and we'll probably stay at that number."
For more Check 21 coverage, along with detailed treatments of the various check image exchanges, watch for the March 2005 issue of Bank Systems & Technology, and keep checking back at www.banktech.com.