Kofax is launching new image capture technology that can be used for mobile marketing and offer redemption tied to multi-channel payments. 

The document management technology company's Kofax Mobile Capture Platform will initially focus on check capture and mobile bill pay, and Kofax envisions wider applications tied to retail shopping.

"We can see it as a loyalty use case, where a consumer makes a payment, and then takes an image of that item to redeem the offer or coupon," says Bruce Orcutt, a senior director at Kofax. "The number one job is engaging the customer in the mobile channel."

The technology works by snapping a photo of a document, then extracting data from the document and sending it to the business' back office or financial institution for processing. Imaging technology has been used for years to remotely deposit paper checks, and it has gradually expanded to include more uses, such as mortgage application processing. In Kofax's case, the platform also provides analytics and back office integration.

"Imaging is not just grabbing the check's account number to trigger a payment anymore. There is data available for marketing and other purposes such as [know your customer]," Orcutt says.

In a restaurant, consumers could use their smartphone to take a picture of the dinner check to pay the bill without having to type any payment information. If a company can make mobile devices easier to use to execute payments, adoption will follow, Orcutt says.

 "With mobile you have a smaller form factor so it's a challenging environment to capture all of the information with a smaller device," Orcutt says.

The platform also enables businesses to develop mobile apps that use image capture, data extraction and analytics. The use cases, such as payments and coupons, will depend in part on how the businesses wish to use the product.

Kofax did not name its clients for the new platform, though Orcutt says some companies are in production with formal deployments coming shortly.  Kofax has previously sold image capture technology for mortgage documents. Last year, Kofax released tools to analyze its imaging product's performance to improve image quality in future.

Other companies are also using mobile cameras to expand transaction capabilities in the mobile channel. Mitek recently received a patent for mobile bill payment. The technology company, which has a series of patents for its imaging technology, has deployed its mobile bill pay system at U.S. Bank, BBVAC Compass, First Financial, City Bank of Texas, Americana Bank and Three Rivers Federal Credit Union, among others.

Mobile point of sale provider Flint has released an Android version of its swipeless mobile card acceptance product, which relies on the smartphone's embedded camera to scan an image of a card to accept payments. Flint views imaging technology as a no-hardware alternative to mobile point of sale products from companies such as Square, Intuit and Leaf. Tantrum Street's Cartwheel Register app also enables consumers to hold a card up to the mobile device to allow photo payments.

The use of cameras to execute payments and other transactions has earned mostly positive reviews from analysts. In an earlier interview, Aite senior analyst Rick Oglesby said the camera approach is easier for the merchant, since the business owner doesn't have to deal with keeping track of a card-reading attachment for the mobile device.

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