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Fifth Third Bank Expands Footprint With Web-Based RDC Offering

By shifting to a thin-client RDC offering, Fifth Third Bank has been able to accelerate efforts to grow deposits and expand its geographic footprint.

Remote deposit capture (RDC) technology has been a part of Fifth Third Bank's customer deposit acquisition strategy since 2005. A more recent effort, however, enabled the Cincinnati-based bank to deliver an RDC capability that better meets the needs of its commercial clients and, as a result, has put Fifth Third in a better position to expand its footprint, according to Matt Jarboe, the bank's VP and senior product manager.

Previously, commercial clients looking to leverage Fifth Third's RDC offering -- known as Electronic Deposit Manager (EDM) -- had to install and manage software locally. That thick-client delivery model, Jarboe concedes, sometimes led to issues for clients. "The challenge was primarily faced by the clients, where our software interfered with other applications on their desktop, competed for space and required changes to security settings," he says. Jarboe declines to name the bank's technology partner on the initial EDM deployment.

To address those issues, Fifth Third ($116 billion in assets) went live with a thin-client version of its EDM solution in September 2007, completing a project that began 10 months earlier. The bank tapped WAUSAU Financial System's WebDDL solution for its Web-based RDC offering and partnered with Digital Check (Northfield, Ill.) for scanning hardware. "As part of the solution WAUSAU has integrated Web-based training to help corporate customers quickly come up to speed on the features and capabilities of the Web product," says Steve Buchberger, SVP, strategic business development, for the Mosinee, Wis.-based vendor.

According to Fifth Third's Jarboe, the Web-based RDC solution fully integrates with the bank's image clearing environment, including archive systems, while utilizing the same back-office consolidation processes as other inputs within the bank, an important consideration in the solution's selection. "We also chose the same vendor [WAUSAU] we are using for our lockbox applications to accommodate the strategy of integrating with those products for a full offering to the market," Jarboe details. "We were able to streamline the sign-on process while also realizing expense savings across the board."

Thin Is In

Under the new delivery model, implementation times have been reduced and the bank's ability to provide support was enhanced, reports John Cliff, senior project manager, Fifth Third. "By moving from a thick-client application to a thin-client application, Fifth Third has benefitted primarily through reduced implementation, service and maintenance issues," he says, noting that customers no longer have to perform software updates at their locations.

Further, "There are a few drivers that need to be installed," Jarboe adds. "If there are difficulties, it is easier to support them remotely and in a virtual environment [now] than it was when we were going through a thick client with a CD that would be installed at a customer's location."

Whether thick or thin client, the goal of the EDM solution has always been deposit growth, Jarboe stresses. "One of the primary reasons we moved to this was to expand our footprint," he relates. "If we are able to implement a ... remote deposit capture solution, we are able to expand our customer base to areas in which we do not necessarily have a retail presence, while enhancing our current retail presence for those who are maybe such a distance from a branch that it makes sense for them to conduct business [with Fifth Third] from their own office."

After shifting to the Web-based offering, however, Fifth Third experienced accelerated growth. In 2008 deposits grew 30 percent, according to Jarboe. "Even using the thick-client application, we were able to expand our footprint," he explains. "But with thin client, it's easier because there is no physical sending of software packages."

From that perspective, Fifth Third views the thin-client offering as a competitive differentiator. "We've implemented in 45 states, while we are mainly a super regional bank located in the Midwest," Jarboe notes.

Case Study Snapshot

Institution: Fifth Third Bank
Assets: $116 billion
Business Challenge: Leverage remote deposit capture to expand the bank's footprint while allowing for easier customer implementation of RDC via a Web-based solution.
Solution: WAUSAU's (Mosinee, Wis.) WebDDL solution and scanners from Digital Check (Northfield, Ill.).

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