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  • Andy Higgins

It Takes Longer Because Computers Are Involved

I actually heard that from my financial institution.

In 2017.

(They’ll remain nameless for now.)

I couldn’t believe it, but yep there it was. This was for releasing funds from a check deposited through my (their!) mobile banking app. You know – the app that's supposed to make my banking easier and more convenient.

Apparently not faster, though.

I couldn’t understand why I got only $200 the next day, then $4,800 the day after that, and the balance 5 days after that. Why weren’t the funds available when the check cleared? It was a business-to-business check – the payer was an established entity of long standing, financially sound with sufficient operating capital and available funds in their account. The image I transmitted to my bank had clear MICR-code characters and a clear endorsement signature. What could possibly take so long?

It didn’t take but 5 minutes of basic questioning to understand that while the bank had built a good app for 21st-century banking, it still encumbered that mobile app with 20th (19th?) century processes for review and risk management, and conservative business rules for managing “my” money. They had established a business process – and spent time and money to encode and institutionalize it – that required incremental releases of funds in order to mitigate against fraud and protect themselves from not having that hard little piece of paper in their hands. If I wanted a faster release they could “set my account for manual review.” But “because computers are involved it takes longer.”


Even if the check cleared the paying institution on less than 5 days (and I’ll NEVER understand why that’s not instantaneous, or at least next day!), I still wasn’t getting my money until Day 5.

So instead of using my mobile banking app – and garnering all the time savings, and savings for energy, car miles, gasoline, facilities overhead, teller salaries, clerical salaries, etc. – I will take my paper check to a branch office of my financial institution each month and dutifully stand in line to make a deposit into my account the old-fashioned way.

The lesson here is obvious and oft-stated oh-so-many-times: Technology is wasted without BPR.

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