The Harris Bank Experience with CD-Recordable Technology

As CD-ROM/CD-Recordable becomes more popular in the many competitive environments of business, one market segment that is providing compelling testimony to the benefits of CD-R is the banking industry. Bank clients are demanding more types of services, and banks are finding it critical to use relationship banking with the best technology to attract new customers and expand existing customer relationships. By embracing CD-Recording technology, many banks have found the ideal method for reducing costs and improving service.

In accordance with strict deadlines, banks and financial institutions produce extensive daily transactions and other important check information. Journal adjustments, loan adjustments and balance journals are delivered to clients each day.

Harris Bank, headquartered in Chicago, is a leading provider of corporate banking services to middle market and emerging companies in the Midwest and is a national leader in specialty industries such as agribusiness, futures and securities and finance companies. In conjunction with its parent, the Bank of Montreal, Harris serves the large corporate market nationally, with a particular emphasis on companies doing business on both sides of the border. Harris also provides banking, trust and investment services to individuals and small businesses within Chicago and its surrounding communities, with national specialties in private banking and investment management.

Recently, when customers began asking for image services, Harris Bank responded by adding new suites of CD-ROM delivery and on-line services for its corporate customers.

Harris is delivering check images on CD-ROM discs to give clients better access to higher quality check images than traditional microfilm delivery methods. Harris Bank is one of the few providers that can help corporate clients manage disbursements by scanning checks drawn on other financial institutions and incorporating those images on CD-ROM. This allows clients access to check activity in a single place and eliminates the need for multiple viewing software from multiple bank providers.

The benefits of CD-R over competing storage technologies such as WORM and tape are giving banks an edge in streamlining internal operations that include cost and time-saving options for storage, distribution and archival. Benefits include low cost, durability, permanence and the ability to randomly access data.

A single disc contains about 20,000 check images, both front and back. Finding a particular check image is fast and easy despite this large capacity. Random access to data is intrinsic to CD technology, making it possible to seek any data within milliseconds. In addition, extensive indexing is typically done prior to cutting a disc to enable key word/field searches and string searches. These capabilities make CD-R invaluable not only to Harris’s large corporate customers, but also internally to speed customer service requests.

The pervasiveness of CD-ROM drives was one of the driving forces behind Harris’s move to CD-R technology. Unlike microfilm, which requires expensive and bulky viewers, or tape and WORM, which require devices that are both expensive and fairly scarce, CD-R discs can be read by anyone with access to a CD-ROM drive. Given the ease and convenience with which clients can access the information stored on the discs, when compared to the alternatives like microfiche and tape, Harris’s task was simply to select the best tool for creating the discs.

For their CD-Recording requirements, Harris selected Young Minds Mass Productions System (MPS) complete with disc autoloaders (Kodak Disc Transporter), Kodak 6x CD Writer and disc label printer. With MPS, Harris Bank can record up to 45 GB of data per day onto CD for archival and distribution. Harris bank uses a Unisys DP500 to image capture client disbursement checks. Based on a cycle selected by the client (monthly, weekly, daily), they burn those check images onto a CD-ROM using the Young Minds equipment.

MPS utilizes multiple premastering engines working in parallel with the writer and autoloader. This high-volume CD-R system allows for enterprise-wide CD-ROM production to be done easily and economically. MPS is intended for applications that produce large amounts of data that must be distributed within a limited time. By using the disc label printer, Harris Bank can customize each disc by printing its corporate logo, client account number and CD-ROM volume number directly on the disc.

Harris Bank uses four of these CD-Recording systems connected to Sun Ultra 1 servers to output check images to blank CD-Recordable discs. The vast majority of these discs are recorded in the last week of the month, with production often exceeding 4,000 discs over three or four days.

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