I like to think I’m pretty savvy when it comes to using new technology to simplify my life and streamline my work. The key words here are “like to think,” because just when I think I’m at the front of the I’m-just-like-the-kids superuser line, something (or in this case, someone) introduces me to a hack that’s been around for about 15 years – and I’m that old-lady Luddite in a babushka, talking about the glory of the days before machines.
So what is this newfangled technology? Get ready: electronic check deposit (and yes, I can hear some of you laughing … but I’ll bet, and by “bet” I mean “hope,” there are a couple of you out there who, like me, haven’t yet joined the check-selfie crowd).
I was introduced to mobile check deposit yesterday when one of my awesome nephews told me to “just deposit the check with your phone.” EXQUEEZE ME? Deposit it with my phone? Okay, yes, I have seen ads about electronic check deposits, but I haven’t DONE it!! I’ve also seen pictures of people giving their personal banking information to strangers in the hopes that those strangers will defraud them and ruin their lives irrevocably, but I haven’t done that either!
Turns out, of all of the possible online banking features, electronic check deposit (you just snap a picture of the front and signed-back of a check on your smartphone and deposit it using your bank’s mobile app) is actually one of the last to catch on. According to a 2018 Harland Clarke “Mobile Deposit Consumer Survey” (the most recent I could find), about 37% of people age 55+ used the feature at that time.
But COVID-19 added a little oomph to mobile banking usage in the last ten months.
In a September 2020 interview with Karen Webster in PYMNTS.com, Mike Diamond, general manager of digital banking at Mitek, said that we’re unlikely to revert to pre-pandemic behavior when it comes to things like going to a bank branch or, God forbid, using a “germ-laden ATM” just to deposit a check. And once banks show consumers how to use mobile check deposit (and illustrate its safety), we’ll all be using the feature regularly.
And all this doesn’t even take into consideration other digital payment channels, like Venmo, that reinforce predictions that paper checks are going the way of … well, paper.
Okay, I think it’s worth a try – according to everything I’ve read, it’s as safe as other online and mobile banking functions. But if you’re going to join me, here are some important considerations:
- Download your mobile banking app directly from your bank or credit union’s website to make sure it’s the latest version of the official app
- Only use banking apps downloaded from your phone’s native app store since these can “enforce certificate pinning to avoid man-in-the-middle” attacks which could happen at unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots. (In regular language … certificate pinning is an extra layer of security that ensures that you’re really going to the site you think you’re going to, and “man-in-the-middle” is that asshole who wants to steal your information)
- Avoid depositing fraudulent checks by only accepting paper checks from people you know and trust (duh)
- Don’t use public wifi to access your account
- Use unique passwords and update them often
- Utilize multi-factor authentication when logging in (like, a password and a one-time code sent to your smartphone)
- Lock your smartphone using a unique PIN or biometric information (facial recognition, fingerprint recognition)
- Keep an eye on your account – go through your deposits, interest payments, and debits on a regular basis.
Also, banks may limit the amount you can deposit and you may experience delays in processing and clearing, there may be fees involved, and some types of checks may be excluded. To avoid delays, banks urge mobile deposit customers to ensure their signature is legible (yes, you still have to endorse the check!!), check images are clear (the app will help you with this), and the amount you enter matches the amount on the check.
And don’t forget to submit/send it (according to lots of articles, this happens … frequently!).
Last, they encourage users to keep the paper check until you’ve double “checked” that it has cleared (check images are not stored on your phone) and then shred the paper check.
So, what do you think? Have you used mobile check deposit technology? Do you think you’ll give it a try? Want me to try it first and report back? Send me a check (any amount is fine, but please keep in mind that my bank limits me to $10,000 per month) and I’ll let you know if it works.
Mitek is a software company that specializes in digital identity verification and mobile capture built on artificial intelligence algorithms and allows people to deposit checks via their mobile phones.