Consumers increasingly are becoming familiar with remote-deposit capture technology but generally are unable to use it because few financial institutions offer the at-home service, new survey data suggest.

In its research, Synergistics Research Corp. in July and August surveyed 1,000 consumers online inquiring about remote-deposit capture using personal computers and mobile phones. The company declined to release the full report.

In a report summary, Synergistics noted that 40% of PC users were familiar with remote-deposit capture, while 33% of mobile users were.

In both cases, however, few were using the service. Just 3% of respondents were using PC-based remote-deposit capture using scanners, while 2% were doing so using the cameras on their mobile phones.

“There is a huge chasm between the product’s awareness and actual use,” says Bill McCracken, Synergistics chief executive. “That can be seen as great potential for the product to grow.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. remains the only major financial institution to offer mobile remote-deposit capture (see story).

USAA Federal Savings Bank in 2009 introduced the service as part of its mobile-banking application for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Google Inc.’s Android-powered phones. USAA also offers a PC-based version.

In October, PayPal Inc. added a mobile remote-deposit capture feature to its iPhone application (see story).

Financial institutions should embrace remote-deposit capture now as a way to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, McCracken contends.

The technology also might help banks gain new customers. Some 60% of respondents who found value in remote-deposit capture said they would switch to a bank that offers the service.

The survey data also suggest some downsides to the technology’s rise. Some 50% of respondents would use bank branches less for deposits, while some 30% would use ATMs less.

Decreased branch traffic is particularly troublesome for banks because they use branch visits to cross-sell other products and services, McCracken suggests.

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