USAA to allow check deposit with iPhone photos

USAA, a bank that operates almost entirely online, will accept website deposits made using photos of checks taken with the iPhone. Until now, it’s required ultra high-res scans of checks, made with an unpleasant Java application that runs in on normal computers’ web browsers.

Here’s Susan Stellin of the New York Times:

“We’re essentially taking an image of the check, and once you hit the send button, that image is going into our deposit-taking system as any other check would,” said Wayne Peacock, a USAA executive vice president.

Customers will not have to mail the check to the bank later; the deposit will be handled entirely electronically, and the bank suggests voiding the check and filing or discarding it. But to reduce the potential for fraud, only customers who are eligible for credit and have some type of insurance through USAA will be permitted to use the deposit feature. Mr. Peacock said that about 60 percent of the bank’s customers qualify.

Bank Will Allow Customers to Deposit Checks by iPhone [NYT]

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10 Responses to USAA to allow check deposit with iPhone photos

  1. PaulR says:

    Wait for the headlines, coming soon:

    We Had No Idea!

    USAA spokescritter “Errr, just call me John Smith” stated yesterday that they had “No idea that cell phone communications over the airwaves used relatively easy to crack, er, what are they called? Alga rhythms? And that cell phones could be stolen! Really, who knew?”

    He went on to say: “No one in their technical staff, well, Jack, our most-experienced marketing rep who now is the technical staff – we fired them all a month ago, and have outsourced the work to a Lower Slobonia firm – told me that he couldn’t foresee any problems with this scheme.”

    Mr. Smith was referring to the recent spate of fraud cases consisting of checks being deposited and then bank accounts being drained, mostly by Nigerian scammers who have falling on hard times lately (for more see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/06/AR2009080603764.html).

    In a related story, USAA shares were up on the news that their entire staff has been reduced to three.
    [Oops, make that two staff: the CEO has retired, after juicing up his stock options - Ed.]

  2. Rob Beschizza says:

    Are you saying this is inherently insecure?

  3. Jeremy says:

    Long time USAA user here. This is great news and doesn’t surprise me at all – this bank has always been progressive and innovative in its practices. I deposit all my checks from home, not using ‘ultra high resolution’ scans, but simple 200 dpi jpegs. It’s pretty dummy-proof, actually.

    Consumers’ bias in favor of oversized super-conglomerate banks might fade if they stopped assuming a ‘small’ bank was an insecure bank. Which kind of bank would YOU try and rob if you felt like trying a life of crime? Besides, check deposits are actually pretty easy to keep straight, because there are two parties to the transaction, and both need to consent to the exchange.

    USAA’s customer service is impeccable, online, on the phone, whichever. I’m glad they don’t have billions of dollars in overhead to maintain thousands of branches that I’d rather not visit anyway. Their resources are deployed with great tact and intelligence.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Paulr, I suppose you’re opposed to checkbooks and credit cards as well, then?

  5. Matt says:

    Not sure where your free-associative rant is coming from PaulR, but it might be tricky for shares in USAA to be up or for the CEO to sell his options, since USAA is not publicly traded, as a simple search would have revealed.

  6. BingoTheChimp says:

    why would this be any less secure than any other mobile-device banking? I am pleading ignorance, since I don’t have a smart-phone, but I assume there is some sort of equivalent to secure web protocols that is possible over iphone apps….isn’t there?

  7. ndmike says:

    Longtime USAA customer here, too…

    I think PaulR is unaware that USAA is not just any Johnny-come-lately online bank. They’ve been primarily a insurance company for people in the U.S. military and their dependents. As such, they’ve got a pretty hefty bar to meet just to become a customer. But, because of this vetting and resulting lower risk, they’ve consistently been rated at the top of Consumer Reports ratings for insurance companies for their impeccable service and low rates.

    Secondly, they’ve offered a scan-your-check-at-home service for a couple of years now. From what I understand, it’s only offered to people who have credit cards with them (I guess they’ll charge your credit card to cover the deposit if there’s suspicion of fraud) and who are also insured by them. Again, a pretty high bar to meet to use the service.

  8. HeatherB says:

    I’m with #3 and #6 I’ve been with USAA basically since birth. No one beats their car insurance or banking. When I have any issues getting an answer or getting it sorted takes no time at all.

    They’re also a bank that is very conservative and do things right. I for one totally trust them and know that this will be just another reason I am glad that I am banking with them (and insured by them).

  9. Great Article!!! I was very happy to ready it all. thanks for the info.

  10. dubitable says:

    I have also been using USAA for a while, and specifically their Deposit@Home feature. It’s quite nice, although I occasionally have problems. And to be sure, the Java applet that lets you perform the online check deposit is kind of clunky and frustrating to use at times.

    But I don’t have to wait to access my funds (once they are deposited), put anything in the postbox, or head to a physical location. It’s wonderful. And their online banking features are great ta boot.

    Boy, I sound like a USAA advertisement…I’m not though, I swear…did I mention they’re very nice on the phone? Obviously, they can’t be trusted.

    As far as security…how is this any less secure than walking around with a check in your pocket, or putting it in the mail? Especially if it is SSL encrypted?

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