I was having lunch with a buddy of mine this past weekend. We sat down, ordered some food, and did some catching up. The conversation swung around at some point to jobs and the economy; and then he asked me, “Jeff, where is your credit union located? I need something more convenient  and the place I go is both inconvenient and charges me too much.”

I pulled out my cell phone. “Right here.” He looked at me kind of funny, so I started showing him around the mobile app I use to do most of my finances these days, and I told him that I keep my credit union with me all the time, in my pocket. In fact,  hadn’t physically set foot in my CU in over ten months.

“Don’t they lose track of you then?”

“No,” I said. “I hear from them by e-mail, they have an active Facebook page, I can call them any time and they are very responsive, and their electronic capabilities are really coming along.”

“How do you make deposits, then? ATM?” Now we were on a subject that was near and dear to my heart.

The convenience of remote deposit capture

I have worked with data center operations for over fourteen years, and I am passionate about processing. I helped build the RDC ‘machine’ at CU*Answers and, work aside, it’s a really slick process and I use it a lot.

It is currently an integral part of the financial landscape. If my CU didn’t have it by now, then as much as I love them (and I do love my CU – I just went to the annual meeting), I’d have to vote with my feet.

RDC has become an essential tool for how people make deposits; and not just younger members, it’s everyone. It saves time for the CU, it saves time for the person making the deposit, and it frees up CU staff to focus on helping members.

Here’s one for you: RDC is environmentally sound. Think of the gas you’ve used to go to make deposits, even just going out of your way to get to an ATM. All that gas gets saved. Green RDC. Who knew.

Demystifying the ins-and-outs of RDC

I have had a lot of opportunities to observe credit unions as they go about building their RDC programs. Some hesitate–they just aren’t sure about it. And I get that. There are a lot of moving parts. So I want to step back and do a quick demystification for anyone who is curious about RDC but is head-scratching over how it works and where to get started.

First, take time to understand the pros and cons and what you are doing it for. You are trying to get the members their money faster and more conveniently, not create road blocks. That said, RDC is a privilege, not a right. Don’t give your members amazing cosmic power unless you are confident they can use it responsibly. Look at some existing contracts, get a RDC policy together, make sure you use restrictive endorsements, and understand that your RDC program must be administered. It’s a living, growing thing.

But what are the actual parts and pieces of RDC? How does it…you know…work? As it turns out, it’s not really all that perplexing when you break it down.

The RDC chicken, the mobile app egg, and the way things work

The first thing you must have is a mobile app for your members. If you don’t have one yet, then stop reading and get a move on. Remember when my friend asked where my CU was and I pulled out my smartphone? Let me suggest that I’m not the only one doing that and if you don’t have a mobile app at this stage of the game, you are behind the ball. I mean it. Stop reading. Go work on getting your mobile app set up right now.

OK, you have a mobile app now and your members can reach you. Next, you need an RDC vendor. What do they do? When your member takes a picture of a check and hits send, it goes through some gyrations behind the scenes.

Is it signed? Do the written and numeric amounts match? Things like that are reviewed. Then business rules are reviewed:

  • How much is this check?
  • How many checks have you deposited via RDC?
  • What is the total of all the checks you deposited?
  • …and more

If there is a problem, the deposit is ‘pended’ so you can review it and either OK it or decline. Once it passes, then it gets pulled apart into a few pieces. The image and some data are placed in a file to go to your check clearing house. Some of the data is organized for posting and placed into a separate posting record. The image may get archived for you.

The settlement file goes out so you can get credit from the various payees for the deposit, and the posting information goes to your core processor and, one way or another, gets moved into your member’s account.

Meet the members where they are

That’s the view from 30,000 feet. It’s not magic, it’s a process – and it’s one of the cooler things to come along since sliced bread. If your CU isn’t doing RDC, then don’t be afraid of it; tackle it! Get it in your members’ pockets. There are lots of resources to help you, there are CUs that can talk to you about their programs, and there are plenty of online resources to draw on.

What do I have in my pocket? My credit union!

Get your CU in your member’s pocket so they take you with them wherever they go. RDC is one great way to do that.

Oh, and by the way – when we got done with lunch, I paid my friend for my half of the meal via text. How does that work? I guess that’s a story for another day…


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