A little while ago, I upgraded my iPhone app from Chase. Like most banking apps, it had allowed me to check balances and pay bills from my phone. But the upgrade included a new feature that kind of floored me: It could take a picture of a check made out to me and make a deposit based on that image — no trip to the branch required.
Now, Chase is not the first bank to have this feature. USAA has had it for a year now. Bank of America has been playing around with it for some time, but has yet to release it to its customers. (Our Your Money columnist, Ron Lieber, wrote about this back in March.)
The process is terrifically simple: Once you are in the app, you tap on “deposits,” which activates your iPhone’s camera and brings up a viewscreen with some guides and commands. Line up the check with the guidelines on your screen, hold the iPhone steady and push an onscreen button. You then do the same for the back of the check. (The endearing Chase TV ads with newlyweds in bed also show how.)
The image is then sent to Chase’s computers, which use optical-character recognition software to “read” the information on the check. The software is impressive, able to read both handwritten (to a point — the software cannot read extremely messy, doctor handwriting) and printed checks. Once Chase’s computers have determined the check’s value, routing number and account number, the app displays a screen recapping the information, which you can then confirm with a click. About a minute later, you get an e-mail from Chase confirming the deposit.
Comments: I still do not have an IPhone, but I think this would be handy!