There is no necessity for all banks to make huge investment in the technology and hardware procurement. Infrastructure can be shared either between banks or through independent service providers.
Banks like State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank have already invested a lot in the resources and technology required for Cheque Truncation. Hence, the other Banks can form a consortium with them by which they can avail services like:-
- Imaging of Cheques which can be sent by the service branch of one Bank to the Image Processing Center of either SBI or PNB.
- Transmitting images to clearing house where the other Banks would be utilizing the networking capabilities of these two Banks.
- After clearing, these images can be returned to the service branches of the respective banksâ€™ in diskettes or CD.
- One of these two Banks can act as a Centralized Warehouse in a certain region to store the cheque images for the other Banks.
All these services and more can be provided by them for a charge as negotiated between them and the other Banks.
Depending on the maximum cheque data and the image volumes to be transmitted, the bandwidth has to be calculated. The images do not take much of the Bandwidth but, the network may get congested if a lot of packets are sent at the same time. Hence network management is an extremely important issue to look at.
If images are sent batch wise then it may create bandwidth problem depending on the transmitting capacity of the Leased Line or the dial-up. A minimum of 2 Mbps (or more) line will be required to overcome congestion in the network. But, the thing to notice is that this connection would just be used once a day during batch upload and other than that the capacity will just go waste. The Banks can go in for this option provided they can effectively utilize the bandwidth available during lean hours.
A wiser option would be to go for an independent 64 kbps (or more) leased line between the service branch and the MICRÂ CenterÂ to continuously send the data and image as and when they are scanned and the required details fed. This option would effectively utilize the bandwidth available during the working hours plus it would be easy on the pocket.
Instead of the JPEG and GIF format for storing images as was originally thought, another option for the service branch of the presenting bank could be to save the scanned cheque images in the TIFF format and then FTP them to the Clearing House. This is because, images in TIFF format occupies very less space.Â As the images go from Clearing House to the Paying Bank the TIFF files can be reconverted into gray scale enhanced JPEG images.
Grey Scale vs. Black & White Scanning
The Working group on cheque truncation has suggested grey scale scanning for the images. The clarity would definitely be better in case of grey scale but the option of black & white scanning should also be pondered upon as it would save cost due to Lower storage space requirement and bandwidth consumption. Therefore, for cheques below a certain amount, the usage of black and white scanning can be looked into by the Banks.
RBI has suggested that there should be a single agency or a bank which can look after the storing of the cheque images. Apart from that, the respective banks should also preserve the cheque images and store them in their service branch. These digital images can be sorted and also indexed by account number, cheque number, date, customer name or any other business criteria for their easy retrieval, if the need arises.