Bank of America Global Treasury Services releases Check 21 product suite

Source: Bank of America

Created to add efficiency to the U.S. payment system by removing key barriers to check truncation and to protect the U.S. payment system from interruption, the Check 21 Act became effective October 28, 2004. Last week, at the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) annual conference in San Diego, Bank of America Global Treasury Services (GTS) formally introduced their solution suite to assist clients in the post-Check 21 environment.

"We believe that Check 21 may be the single-most significant change to the U.S. payments system," said Sprole W. ("Skip") Heaps, III, U.S. Product Management executive, Bank of America Global Treasury Services. "Through our participation in several key organizations and committees, we are leading efforts to help establish Check 21 industry guidelines and standards. We understand the significance of the Check 21 legislation and how corporations and financial institutions can benefit from this new law and the innovative solutions it permits us to provide."

Bank of America GTS is developing and implementing check transformation solutions that allow clients to manage payments and receipts more efficiently. These capabilities are being driven both by client needs and Check 21, and are being supported by advanced image technology and the advantages of the Bank of America geographic footprint.

"Check transformation solutions allow companies to realize the immediate benefits related to Check 21, which include reduced risk from faster returned- check notification and more efficient receipts processing as companies no longer need to physically deposit checks," Heaps added. "As the largest check- clearing bank worldwide, Bank of America is uniquely positioned to help clients leverage Check 21 changes in moving towards a paper-free environment."

Clients can use the bank's check-transformation solutions, which leverage image and Internet-based technology, to bring automation to different points of the check processing flow for payments and receivables.

Products being offered now and later in 2005 include:
  • Remote Deposit. A unique ARC and Check 21 product from Bank of America, Remote Deposit enables clients to realize the benefits of ACH check conversion, as well as the benefits of the post-Check 21 environment. The service facilitates the electronic processing of checks for companies who receive checks from individuals that can be converted to ACH under Accounts Receivable Check Conversion (ARC) rules. With Check 21 now in effect, clients will be able to use desktop software and a compact scanner to transform all checks into either an image for check truncation, or into an ACH transaction. Remote Deposit offers a complete solution for clients to eliminate all paper check handling for their U.S. dollar items and move to the benefits of electronic and image-based processing.
  • Remote capture of U.S. dollar-denominated checks in international locations. The Bank of America International Remote Deposit Service was designed for multinational companies and international financial institutions. Created to assist these clients to leverage the benefits of post Check-21, it first went live in Mexico City on day one of Check 21 (October 28, 2004). International Remote Deposit Service shares a common platform with the domestic Remote Deposit Service, providing a consistent client experience on a global basis. Similar to domestic use, an international client can capture U.S. dollar check images, and then transmit them to the bank for clearing, thereby eliminating transportation expenses and moving checks into the U.S. clearing system as efficiently as possible.
  • Image Cash Letter. The Bank of America Image Cash Letter service is an efficient alternative to the traditional paper cash letter deposit process for high volumes of incoming check payments. By using high-speed capture or remittance processing equipment to capture check MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) and images, clients can create and send the bank an electronic cash letter file in lieu of a traditional paper cash letter. After receiving a check image file, Bank of America manages the transformation of the check items to electronic deposit processing. Bank of America can clear client items as substitute checks or via image exchange, or the bank can convert eligible consumer check payments to ACH debit transactions under ARC rules.
  • Check Fraud Prevention Services. "Payee Positive Pay" is a solution to help detect and prevent paper check fraud, even when checks are imaged. Bank of America has implemented a digital interrogation process that will prove as robust or better at helping to detect certain types of fraud than current detection methods. Digital Interrogation is the backbone of the image fraud detection process, including the Bank of America Payee Positive Pay service that allows a client to electronically submit payee name information as part of a check issue file, so that Bank of America can match this additional issue information to its positive pay system. Digital interrogation supports check fraud prevention analyzing check images and data to determine if any information on the front of the check, including payee name, has been altered.
  • Imaged Returns with client input. Bank of America provides images of returned items to clients online via Bank of America Direct(R) - a web-based information reporting and transaction-initiation system - by e-mail or by autofax. In the near future, clients will be able to make a decision about a returned item (clients will be able to advise the bank if Bank of America should re-deposit a returned item or charge it back to their account).

    The bank's comprehensive, integrated solution suite encompasses the full paper-to-electronic spectrum of payment and receivable services. It further integrates these services with information reporting, concentration and investment services. As an industry leader, the bank has been at the forefront of efforts to translate efficiency gains in the U.S. payments system into tangible benefits for its clients.

    "As the first bank to offer a desktop solution for ARC and check truncation, as well as nationwide image wholesale lockbox operations, Bank of America is an innovator in implementing image technology," noted Heaps. "We will continue to invest in image capabilities that bring new products and functionality to our customers, and help them maintain and improve efficiency during this transformation of our industry."

    As imaging evolves and increases over time, use of images among banks to clear checks will practically eliminate the dependency on the physical transportation of checks. This will ultimately allow banks to provide more efficient check processing; improved availability of funds, accelerated returned item processing, extended processing deadlines and new technology to help prevent check fraud. Image quality at Bank of America will exceed the emerging industry standard, with the result of reduced risks to clients that an improperly imaged deposited item will be charged back to them.

    "Check 21 brings with it a new paradigm to the payment world. We believe our expertise, leadership and innovation in Check 21 gives our clients a competitive advantage not offered anywhere else in the marketplace," concluded Heaps.
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