Broadway & Seymour Inc. announced that it has developed check imaging software aimed at boosting the back-office efficiency of community banks.

The software, called VisualImpact, provides image "proof of deposit," statement generation, and check archival functions.

Future applications will include remittance processing, wholesale/retail lockbox, and corporate cash management options.

Two Texas banks will test the product in April, and it is scheduled to be generally available in June, according to Broadway & Seymour officials.

The system, which operates in a client/server environment, takes aim at an industry that is rapidly adopting imaging for such paper-intensive activities as check processing and loan origination.

According to research published by Ernst & Young and the American Bankers Association - which polled the top 100 U.S. bank holding companies - the majority of respondents are already using imaging, or plan to use the technology, in those areas.

In 10 years, Ernst & Young predicts, imaging will help eliminate much of the costly back-office paper processing.

Through the elimination of paper, banks have found that imaging can reduce check processing costs by 20% to 30%.

Both Broadway & Seymour officials said they believe imaging is not just for big banks.

Keith Sides, director of sales and marketing at Charlotte, N.C.-based Broadway & Seymour, said that in the community bank marketplace, there is a lot of activity to move to full image processing for both proof-of-deposit, or POD, and statement generation functions.

At larger financial institutions there is a shift away from POD to corporate cash management, archival, and departmental applications, because the banks are putting new emphasis on fee generation, as opposed to just cost reduction, Mr. Sides added.

Using VisualImpact, financial institutions can choose only those applications that are needed, and can operate the system on a variety of check-sorting equipment, including that made by AT&T Global Information Solutions, International Business Machines Corp., BancTec Systems Inc., and eventually, Unisys Corp. This will help banks leverage their investments in existing technology, said Mr. Sides.

The system is suitable for financial institutions that process 25,000 to one million items per day, he said.

It was designed for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT operating system, after the company also evaluated OS/2 and Unix.

"NT provided the greatest scalability, and was more open than Unix," said Mr. Sides.

Another reason Microsoft was selected, he added, was because of the software company's "commitment to play strongly in the financial industry and process mission-critical documents."

Other functions VisualImpact offers, for traditional and image-enabled environments, include item capture and sorting, reject reentry, courtesy amount recognition, balancing, cash letters, and statement research.

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