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E-Deposits Over The Internet

Service from Wells Fargo lets merchants electronically send deposits to the bank via an Internet portal.
Wells Fargo & Co. staked a leadership position in the area of electronic deposits last week as it began offering merchants an Internet service for check processing.

The service comes in the wake of the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, which took effect in October and lets printed versions of scanned paper checks act as legal substitutes. Most major banks and some smaller banks have rolled out electronic-deposit services, yet they typically use standard software applications. Wells Fargo's service doesn't require software installations for electronic deposits.

Wells Fargo's Desktop Deposit service is available online through a portal. Customers can scan checks using equipment provided by Wells Fargo or a third party and electronically send deposits to the bank via the portal.

A preliminary version of Desktop Deposit was tested in November and has since been deployed by the Semitropic Water Storage District in California's Central Valley. Before using the system, the district lost 10 hours of staff time every two weeks because employees drove checks to the bank for deposit, says Drew Hamilton, a controller at Semitropic.

Wells Fargo also offers a service to customers with existing scanning equipment that lets them make deposits by sending a standardized file to the bank. Retailer 7-Eleven Inc. began testing the bank's Electronic Deposit in October through its network of Vcom kiosks that shoppers use to make ATM transactions. The retailer plans to roll out Electronic Deposit to all 1,050 stores that have Vcom kiosks this year so it can perform daily deposits of checks, says Rick Updyke, 7-Eleven's VP of corporate business development.

Says TowerGroup analyst Susan Feinberg, "Banks that are aggressive [with] these kinds of services will be winning business from companies that they previously really didn't have an opportunity to do business with because of geography."