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Mitek technology makes smartphones into bank kiosks

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Have you seen the TV commercial of the newlyweds happily snapping photos of gift checks with their smartphones, thereby depositing the funds into their checking account as if by magic?

That’s a Mitek Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: MITK) technology at work. Chase’s (AMEX: CCF) Quick Deposit service is one of the more visible applications of Mitek’s mobile-imaging innovations.

New uses for Mitek’s patented algorithm technology have made this a time of remarkable growth for the San Diego company. For fiscal 2011, Mitek’s total revenues doubled to $10.27 million, with a mounting roster of Fortune 500 customers and top U.S. banks.

Beyond Chase, Mitek’s devotees include military-focused financial institution USAA; insurance provider Progressive (NYSE: PGR); brokerages Fidelity (Nasdaq: ONEQ), E-Trade (Nasdaq: ETFC) and Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW); e-commerce site PayPal; and tax software-maker Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU).

Mitek has long worked with businesses to electronically process documents. But that was in the back office. Mitek’s big break came with the proliferation of low-cost, high-resolution cameras on consumer mobile devices.

“It was a convergence of market trends,” Mitek President and Chief Executive Officer James DeBello said in a recent interview. “We were able to marry our expertise with the cellphone to make them virtual scanning devices.”

Consumers now have the power to deposit checks, pay bills, compare rates and transfer balances by taking photographs of their documents with a smartphone or wireless tablet.

“We’re able to improve costs and improve the consumer experience,” DeBello said. “In a way, we’re the bridge between paper information and digital information.”

Banks in particular are finding Mitek’s technology useful in cutting costs, according to DeBello. Independent research has shown that the cost to a bank of a customer depositing a check in person is about $3.65; depositing at an ATM costs the bank between 80 cents and a dollar, he said. A mobile check deposit, meanwhile, costs a bank just between 14 and 16 cents.

The images are compressed and encrypted within the mobile applications for security and are likely more accurate than a desktop scanner, DeBello said. Customers whose documents are unreadable are asked to take the photo again.

“The popularity of this service is case proof that consumers want the convenience of a bank kiosk in their pocket,” he said.

DeBello said there are hundreds, if not thousands, of potential applications for Mitek’s technology. Mitek hopes to next address the needs of the so-called “under-banked” — the millions of Americans “who don’t have a banking relationship but do have a smartphone,” DeBello said. By working with partners like MoneyTree, Mitek would enable those consumers to cash checks without stepping inside a cash-checking store.

Mitek is hiring additional employees to handle the workload, from salespeople to scientists. The company currently employs about 50 people in San Diego.

“We think we have been disruptive in the marketplace by creating a new way for customers to conduct their business,” DeBello said. “It’s all about the mobile experience, at your own discretion, on your own time.

McEntee is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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Mitek Systems Inc.

Company Website

8911 Balboa Ave. Ste., B
San Diego, CA 92123

Mitek Systems Inc. Executive(s):

Jim DeBello

  • Chief Executive Officer, President

Russell Clark

  • Chief Financial Officer

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Entrepreneur Of The Year 2015 semifinalist: James DeBello

May 19, 2015 -- Executive Editor George Chamberlin speaks with James DeBello, president and CEO of Mitek Systems Inc., about developing mobile deposit technology and being a semifinalist for the 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.

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