The Magic of the Camera Phone in Mobile Payments
Anyone who has ever taken a picture of a check, credit card or license in order to process a payment or pay a bill has used Mitek’s mobile imaging software. Mitek’s been at the forefront of using a smartphone camera to eliminate the friction from a paper based payments process. MPD CEO Karen Webster recently sat down with Mitek’s Chief Revenue Officer, Mike Diamond, to discuss how Miktek’s focus on the retail side of payments has helped them improve payments and collections of the mobile workforce.
KW: When I think of Mitek, I think of the technology that allows me to take a picture of my check and have it magically deposited into my bank account. What is Mitek’s relevance in the enterprise payments space?
MD: I think you’ve said it better than I could myself. We’re all about driving friction out of the mobile channel and using a camera to do that. There are a number of ways that phones and tablets are limited – is it too small is it too big? But there other ways were this technology is incredibly liberating. One that we’re passionate about is the existence of a camera. We’ve been focused on enabling consumers to deposit checks and enabling merchants to accept checks. The camera is a great way to upload that information for accepting fast payment credentials. Our whole focus is to drive friction out of the mobile process.
KW: Your end user is the consumer but there is a lot of stuff that happens between Mitek and any other enterprise to enable that delightful consumer experience. What is that and how is it done?
MD: I would say that our tech is used by commercial enterprises and builders alike but we come to it from the retail channel and that’s been a huge advantage to us. We have the individual consumer in the forefront of what we’re doing. So say someone wants to pay a bill their cable provider. We have the capability that allows the consumer to take a picture of their bill and pay it online. In that case, we’re actually talking to a consumer via a huge national biller. In another case, we’ll have a corporation with far flung mobile employees who are accepting payments from their customers, who might also be businesses, and depositing their payments that way. I’d say we cross a lot of different boundaries from corporate, business and so forth but we always approach it from the simple perspective of how do people, you and I, how do we interact with this mobile device. How would people actually sue their phone to take a picture of a bill, a license, a credit card in the environment that they happen to be in.
KW: What are some of the most unusual cases that companies have come to you and asked you to solve on behalf of their consumer or end user?
MD: We never have a meeting where someone doesn’t have a new idea of what you can use a camera for. It’s a very exciting place to be. A good example is one that was recently written about in a recent Forbes. It described a situation in which US Bank had a kiosk to sign people up for Minnesota Twins credit card at the baseball stadium. In this case, however, US Bank wanted to mitigate the many issues that they had in the past with the accuracy of the data that people were putting in. so, they utilized our tech to take a picture of the person’s license who was signing up for the card. Mitek then corrects for all issues with the pictures that are taken like warping and shadowing and extracts data off of the card and is able to move the consumer through the process a lot faster. The end result was that the bank got a higher rate of application acceptance which led to more cards being issued.
KW: What are some of the other physical documents do you look at to get your technology “revved up”?
MD: That’s a great question. It leads us to one of the fascinating new chapters in mobile imaging as it relates to financial services industry which is account opening. We’ve not done a great job in this industry of driving organic revenue growth in the bank market – most technologies are all about cutting costs, efficiencies. However, getting people through the complex sign up process is significant. There are different process for different accounts that are being opened; there’s a need for documents that are part of the normal trend of payment processing. We have this capability where the consumer can hover their phone over a payment instrument (like a check or a bill) and we automatically lock in on the picture giving the consumer some real time feedback. It lets a bank manager take that technology and use it for the benefit of the consumer, using the mobile channel which carries a much lower cost. That’s what’s so great about magical about the camera is that it comes from a really human place, it’s about people and the people who use it love it. It makes banks and companies look like they’re in the 21st century.
KW: What are some of the B2B applications can you imagine coming out of the brainstorming sessions you described?
MD: A lot of our work force is now mobile as in they move around a lot. The technology exists where there is no need for mobile workers to go out to the field and produce a paper invoice and accept a paper check. Here’s a quick story. One of our enterprise customers has a huge mobile workforce and what they started to do is take ask their customers to take pictures of their checks and keep the check for 30 days. The technology worked so great that the customers were then taking pictures of their checks and then destroying the checks right then and there. When the shopkeepers were seeing the drivers come in they started to realize that they needed to start writing them really good checks! The day’s outstanding numbers improved, the quality of their accounts receivable approved.
KW: You seemed to have ended the “check is in the mail saga” which is often what salespeople in the mobile workforce have had to deal with. It’s a way to solve the problem that doesn’t require equipping the sales force with anything but their phones.
MD: It doesn’t take a lot to put a $200 Android tablet in the hands of a mobile workforce and it has been incredibly effective.
To hear Mike’s perspective on what can be learned from consumer payments join us at our “What’s Next in B2B Payments” in NYC on October 15th. Register today!