Smartphone remote bill payment gains clout

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I've noted on several occasions that remote deposit capture has become a fairly standard offering by banks.Retail customers expect to be able to deposit checks by taking a picture of it with their smartphones and then sending it to the bank.

What would be a logical follow-on service for banks and thrifts? How about remote bill pay using smartphone pictures?

Btn reports that U.S. Bank is poised to become the first big bank to offer such a services and has partnered with Mitek, a leader in offering remote check deposit technology to banks. The bank is currently "integrating Mitek's photo bill pay process into its CheckFree bill pay workflow; developers are also testing Mitek's technology and the integrated solution."

Mitek thinks the wave could eventually be huge.

"Mobile photo bill pay is the next big imaging solution to be launched," Mitek's CEO was quoted. "This could be bigger than mobile check deposit. We think the market could achieve 50 million Americans, and that's why we're so excited about this. This is the next big thing."

The process of standardizing the bill pay process has proven to be even more complex.

"Turning a paper invoice into an accurate stream of text for a bank's payment processing systems is harder than it may sound. Unlike checks, where each data element (payor, payee, amount due, date) is in a predictable spot and is therefore relatively easily to translate from image to ASCII text, invoices have no standard template."

In the end, it might be important to develop some industry standards as the service proliferates. The really big question here is the extent to which banks can monetize it. While many banks do not charge for RDC, at some point, revenue has to become a major concern. I certainly think that customers will be willing to pay for mobile bill deposit, as long as the application works as advertised.

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