Nate McKinley, VP and head of USAA Corporate Development, along with Bharat Prasad, Technical Architect and one of the developers of USAA's Deposit@Home®, pose with the original scanner used as a prototype of the groundbreaking technology.
Over a decade ago, USAA employees found an unusual solution to an urgent challenge.
USAA members — many of them active military — were having trouble getting to a bank branch to deposit their paychecks. For those deployed overseas or stationed in more rural locations, this was more than an inconvenience. It was a matter of making sure their families were taken care of while they served their country.
Teams across USAA tackled the problem, and the innovation team sparked an idea that seemed radical at the time. If members could use something they already had in their homes to connect with USAA bank systems, they may be able to deposit their checks without going to a branch.
“Our technology team is so passionate about solving members’ problems,” says John Brady, VP & Chief Architect, Technology. “They see a barrier, and they don’t stop until they figure out a way to overcome it.”
That idea and passion led to a revolution in consumer banking, and in the years since, more and more banks and credit unions have offered customers the ability to deposit checks without ever visiting a branch. Today, USAA is inviting them to license this remote deposit capture (RDC) technology and continue to offer its benefits to their customers.
The First 30 Days
It all began with a single home scanner. The innovation team invited John Brady to their lab to see the object of their experimentation, which they’d configured to capture and crop a check image that could be sent digitally to USAA’s banking systems. It wasn’t perfect, but if the team could make this technology work on a larger scale, it would be a breakthrough in meeting this acute member need.
Though skeptical, Brady saw the idea’s potential and encouraged the team to build a prototype to demonstrate to USAA executive leadership. After a few demos, they got the green light.
Original scanner used as a prototype of the groundbreaking technology
Brady sent some team members to Best Buy to purchase a range of home scanners for testing and development. For the next 30 days, the team worked around the clock to experiment and find new solutions for every detail of the technology.
“They were so excited about this idea that they hardly left the office,” says Brady. “We brought in a lot of pizza, a lot of breakfast tacos — at one point, we even had to send a guy home to take a shower.”
Near the end of that month, they finally had something. They pushed the technology live on a Friday night and went home to get some sleep, planning to conduct a pilot test when USAA banks opened the next day.
Brady recalls the moment when he learned their hard work had paid off. “The next morning, I heard from one of the developers. He said he’d just deposited a check from his home scanner, and his kids were jumping and down and cheering.”
A New Era for RDC Technology
In 2006, this innovation was made available to USAA members as Deposit@Home®*, the world’s pioneering remote deposit capture (RDC) technology. In the years since, this technology has become a common feature of the consumer banking experience, utilized by thousands of banking institutions for over a decade.
And the team has never stopped improving and innovating — USAA has been issued approximately 50 patents on RDC technology since its launch in 2006 and is now introducing a program to invite banking institutions and others to license this technology.
“We spent significant time and resources transforming remote deposit technology from an idea on a whiteboard into a robust platform that represents considerable value for our members,” says Nathan McKinley, VP and head of Corporate Development at USAA. “We think we can return some of that value to them through this licensing program.”
It all comes back to USAA’s DNA as a member-owned, member-focused organization. Every innovation is a result of the collective investment of its members and employees, and now, USAA will provide them with the returns they deserve.
“Our goal is to make it fair for the service members and families who funded this innovation,” says McKinley. “We’ll reinvest those license fees in the next best idea for military members and their families.”
To learn more about our approach to IP management, visit the USAA Corporate Development website at usaacorpdev.com.
*Eligibility for USAA Deposit@Mobile® will be based on your account history with USAA Bank. Deposits may not be available for immediate withdrawal.
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