Citizens Federal Bank of Dayton, Ohio, has bought two automated teller machines with a feature that could encourage people to use ATMs instead of tellers in making deposits.

The NCR Corp. machines can capture an image of a deposited check and print the image on a receipt.

"Citizens Federal is the first customer to go on-line with this receipt technology," said Andy Orent, vice president of self service at NCR, which also is based in Dayton.

"And 20 to 30 institutions are interested in it. They view this proof of deposit as the ability to move more transactions from the teller to the automated environment," he said.

According to Atlanta-based Synergistics Research Corp., fewer than half of all ATM users use them to make deposits.

Surveys by other companies have indicated this is because people fear the machines will lose, mangle, or otherwise mishandle their deposits.

The new NCR machines are meant to calm such fears by giving people physical evidence that the deposit has been made. The ATM screen can also display an image of the check.

Synergistics executives said the company's research indicates these measures will improve consumer acceptance of ATM deposits.

"We've tried to promote electronic transactions," said Rod Weeks, group vice president and director of management information systems at Citizens Federal, which is a $2.9 billion-asset unit of Citfed Bancorp of Dayton.

"Our past surveys to promote deposits at ATMs showed us that customers were not comfortable making a deposit at an ATM because they were not sure it worked. This is something that looks like it works, with the image on a receipt,"he said.

Citizens Federal has 40 ATMs. About half of its 100,000 checking account holders use the terminals.

Mr. Weeks said the bank plans to track transaction traffic at the new machines carefully.

Image printing "is an expensive option," he said. "The price per unit should go down, though, if we spread it out over more ATMs and if we get the volume up."

The thermal graphic printer for printing the image receipts costs about $1,200; the mini-system that processes image-based deposits in an ATM costs between $1,900 and $4,000.

In addition to helping boost deposits, ATMs with imaging capabilities could streamline check processing.

The check images could be sent each day over telecommunications lines to back-office systems for processing. That would be much quicker and neater than processing paper.

In addition, the images can be sent to data archives and used in customized statements or on-line services.

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