The case for remote cash capture can hardly be heard above the din, with related technologies like remote deposit capture, and the ever-rising tide of electronic payments, getting much of the attention and investment. Hidden in the hype is the reality that the lowly greenback still accounts for nearly a third of all transactions, according to Hitachi Consulting, and currency in circulation has seen a compound annual growth rate of about four percent over the past eight years.

For most merchants, couriers and banks, cash handling is still predominantly manual, but a growing number of institutions are offering remote cash capture products that sweeten the deal by offering provisional credit for deposits that are counted and validated by a "smart safe" that also provides audit trails for cash. Among those piloting or planning to launch remote cash capture this year: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase. Beating them to market were Fifth Third Bank, Huntington, PNC, Regions Financial and SunTrust.

In a recent report entitled "Remote Cash Capture, an Idea Whose Time Has Come," Celent analyst Bob Meara wrote "The primary benefit of provisional credit is its enablement of wholesale reengineering of the cash cycle within merchants, and between merchants, armored couriers, and bank cash vault networks."

The barriers to adoption of remote cash capture technology include armored courier companies who employ proprietary technology, requiring banks to invest in integrating the input from multiple vendors. Celent estimates there are about 25,000 "smart safes" in the U.S, but just over half of them are part of close-loop systems that offer provisional credit from participating banks. That number is expected to grow by 6,000 to 12,000 safes per year.

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