Yes, you read that correctly. USAA Federal Savings Bank will soon be allowing many of its customers to deposit checks into their accounts using the iPhone and its camera, according to an article published in the New York Times. For at least a year, the same bank has been allowing their customers, like myself, to deposit checks using a scanner to image the check – front and back – and deposit it online, instantly. Its a service they brand as ‘Deposit @ Home’. That process has proved very successful for USAA and highly effective by my determination. It is the only way that my wife and I deposit checks now.
But it begs the question, why do this? To answer that, you have to understand that USAA is not your standard bank. USAA caters mostly to military families and their dependants. Its members are widespread and not concentrated in any one area (except maybe military bases). It also has members all around the globe. USAA doesn’t have physical branches. Everything is done over the phone or via the internet.
USAA.com is an excellent banking site, the best in my opinion because of the functionality at your reach as a customer. You can do almost everything you’re normally do after waiting in line at the local branch online. New accounts are setup online easily and quickly, mortgage applications and more. USAA is also an investment and insurance carrier and those products are available online.
So, the online deposit wass the next logical extension. For a bank with no branches and no tellers, extending the convenience of an instant deposit is great (something, not even available in a local branch — remmber got to wait til 2pm or next day). Some checks don’t deposit, if they are too light or if they are illegible. For those, you put it into a postage-paid envelope and mail it off to their processing center. This was the only method of deposit several years ago when we joined. USAA has experimented with other methods in the past, including a method utilizing UPS to deliver the deposits overnight. That trial only lasted a few months, and I can imagine, it was costly for the bank. Even the snail-mail method only took two to three business days for the deposit to appear.
And I’ve said it before, USAA is a stand-up, top-notch organization and its always a pleasure to do business with them. They really understand customer service, whether its speaking with you on the phone or whether its extending technology into your hands to better serve you. So, now I’m awaiting the updated iPhone application (I already have the current one installed!) to try out deposit from iPhone, or whatever they’ll brand it.