FSTC produces cheque-image exchange standards

Source: Financial Services Technology Consortium

The Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) today announced it has successfully concluded phase II of its Image Quality and Usability Assurance Project.

The project's goals were to produce a set of metrics against which check images could be judged and establish thresholds that identify unusable images. These standards, many of which are already being adopted, will enable financial institutions for the first time, to accurately predict check image usability as the banking system moves toward full electronic processing of the 36 billion checks a year that the nation's businesses and consumers produce. Banks will soon be able to improve the effectiveness of their manual review while reducing the number of images reviewed, speed up their review times, and reduce their risk and liability. This is a key development in the deployment of image exchange and the Check 21 Act.

"To be successful in making the full leap from paper to image, we must trust our collective ability to exchange images without undue risk of wrongful payment or dishonor," said Matt Calman, Architecture Engineering Executive at Bank of America. "Banks have embraced these preliminary guidelines in shaping their first operating agreements for image exchange. In effect, FSTC, its members, and its project participants have greatly reduced critical entry barriers to image exchange."

Accurately identifying problem images early in the check processing cycle can prevent poor quality images from entering the system, and help ensure efficient processing and high customer satisfaction levels. During this phase of the project, the team created usability definitions, identified usability metrics, and tested over 3.5 million check images for the defects defined during phase one. Information from this testing was used to assess the usefulness of the image quality metrics in predicting check usability, and to set thresholds the industry can use to filter out poor quality images.

"This is the first time the industry has had the opportunity to utilize definitive quality assessments and analysis that will enable us to more efficiently employ existing quality tools," said Andrew Garner, Senior Systems Consultant for Wachovia Bank. "We can now endeavor to develop the additional tools needed to effectively screen for true usability problems."

"Members of the financial services industry, corporations and consumers all benefit when individuals from varied business backgrounds come together to create solutions," added Louis Arkenau, Vice President at Bank of New York. "This is exactly what phase II of this project has accomplished - a road-map for the future with regard to image quality."

"The cooperation and determination of this project team has been outstanding," said Zachary Tumin, Executive Director of FSTC. "Over the past two years, they have identified possible image defects, developed a detailed set of metrics against which check images can be evaluated, and tested these metrics against over 3.5 million check images. This has paved the way for industry-wide adoption and has removed a major obstacle for the successful full reliance on check images."

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