A Time of the Signs

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No more trips to this credit union's portable storage unit to search through piles of archived transaction receipts.

This summer, ABNB Federal Credit Union will finish installing nearly 100 electronic signature pads at teller stations and drive through lanes.

"Our objective is to be as paperless as possible," said Mary Fehrs, ABNB's vice president of operations.

The 1-by-5 inch pads will make it possible for the $286-million CU to generate and store transactions with electronically-captured signatures, said Fehrs. ABNB is using SignatureGem 1x5, provided by Simi Valley, Calif.-based Topaz Systems.

Fehrs estimates ABNB will save more than $7,000 per year on duplicate receipt paper.

ABNB has used about 40 pads for three months at teller stations, and members and tellers alike are pleased, she said.

Tellers store an electronic copy of every transaction and print a paper receipt for the member. Members then sign the signature pad with a plastic-tipped pen to verify the transaction, and tellers store the signature as part of the electronic receipt.

"We're always looking to make life easier, not only for members, but for staff as well," Fehrs added.

Members get clean, printed copies of receipts instead of messy carbons. Employees get an even better deal.

"Any employee can research a transaction receipt on our optical storage system if a member claims a discrepancy," explained Bobby Moro, ABNB's network operations manager.

Fehrs said electronic receipt searches save a lot of time. "Searching is now super-fast, and you can sit at your desk and do it. We've cut searches down to five minutes at most, from what used to take 30 minutes to an hour manually out at the storage unit."

Previously, if ABNB wanted to store signed receipts electronically, a $20,000 salaried employee would have to scan receipts and send them to the optical storage system, Fehrs continued. Old paper receipts then had to be shredded.

In addition, the completely electronic receipts mean that tellers will no longer have to sort and bundle paper receipts at the end of each business day, Fehrs said.

As the CU phases out the physical storage units, it will also save about $7,500 per year in storage unit rental fees.

The second wave of signature pad implementation is a bit trickier, according to Moro.

This summer, ABNB plans to roll out about 50 pads at drive-through lanes and at five other branches, all of which are Interactive Remote Teller (IRT) branches, he said.

For both IRT and drive-through service, tellers aren't visible or physically accessible to members.

Moro is working with ABNB's optical storage and core processing systems provider USERs, Inc., to build software that will accommodate remote signature capture.

Whereas the beta-test of the remote delivery has an expensive, custom-built signature pad tunneling through a pneumatic tube where the member signs at the other end, Moro said he will probably mount the pads next the member area in future implementations.

"Our new drive-through and IRT signature pads will be networked, which will bring the cost for each pad down to roughly $400 or less," Moro said. ABNB originally faced paying $1,800 per device for disparate wireless signature pads.

ABNB has invested about $30,000 for signature pad hardware and software, said Fehrs.

"Flexibility is also a big driver for us with the signature pads at the IRT branches at drive-through lanes," continued Moro. "We need to be able to have multiple tellers use each pad to serve multiple members at the same time. Networked pads will allow tellers to move from pad to pad freely."

As part of its move to paperless, 41,000-member ABNB also plans to enable electronic signatures on loan documents.

Topaz Systems provides electronic transaction and signature solutions.

Valley Forge, Penn.-based USERS, a unit of Fiserv, Inc., provides a range of financial services systems and support to about 325 CUs nationwide.

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