Screenshot_2014-01-21-20-41-29 (1)I live in the future.

(And here’s how it works. No, seriously.)

I just deposited a couple of checks by taking photos of them with my smartphone. My new bank, Chase, supports deposit by smartphone app. Today was my first chance to try it out, and I was amazed at how easily it was accomplished.

In the old days, back in Springfield, getting a check would have meant bicycling several blocks to the nearest ATM to deposit it. Here, I just pulled up the app, punched in an amount, snapped photos of the front and back of the checks (I wasn’t sure whether I needed to endorse them or not, but I decided to just to be safe), and boom. Half an hour later, I got emailed notifications that both checks had been accepted, and they’ll be available in my account tomorrow.

Who would have expected I’d ever be able to do something like that? And I mean that seriously and literally. Who would have expected that the advent of handheld computer/communication devices would mean you could deposit checks without leaving your home? In science fiction, we saw depictions of people using handheld computers to read e-books at least as far back as the 1970s. But not once that I am aware of did any science-fiction story depict someone depositing a check with one.

If science fiction prediction has a failing, it’s often that it doesn’t go far enough. People get the big things, the big ways that pocket computers might affect our lives. Reading e-books, accessing galactic encyclopedias, and so on. But it’s all the myriad little things you can do with these gadgets that are actually the biggest way they’ve changed our lives.

You can’t ride the bus or go to a restaurant or be in a movie theater without seeing someone with their phone out, sending text messages to someone else or posting to their social network feed. Where was that in the science fiction of thirty years ago? Who would have predicted the craze for selfies, or taking pictures of food? Who would have imagined using them to keep an eye on the police officers and other public officials who enforce the law? And yet all these things and more are what people are doing with the new technology. They often make perfect sense in retrospect, but they’re not something anyone could possibly have predicted back in the day.

And that’s wonderful. We’re still living in a world of surprises, despite the most our imaginations can throw at us.

We’re living in the future.


  1. It is utter ridiculous that banks allow people to do that. Checks are official documents with anti-forgery countermeasures. A digital photo is whatever the fuck you want it to be. Take 15 minutes and walk to the bank. It’s when one tries to cut physical steps out of a protocol is when the security issues become rampant.

  2. I’ve been depositing checks this way for quite some time now. My only surprise is that you’ve only now found out about it. My bank is online only (no branches) and this is the primary method to deposit checks. I can deposit a check in about a minute.

  3. @ALAN, above re your bank that is online only, i am looking for a bank like that to work with from my office in Taiwan, overseas, can you share the name or link to the bank with me, leave comment here or email me at danbloom AT gmail

  4. Not sure what the problem is. The bank is the one carrying the costs and the security risk. If they want to allow it, that’s their decision. I’m sure happy to use it in the zero-degree weather we’ve been having lately. Anyway, that’s why you hold onto the check for a while after depositing it, just to make sure everything goes through okay.

  5. @DAN, our bank is Capital One 360. As you can probably guess

    @CHRIS, our bank notifies us when they receive the deposit and tells us not to void the check until it is approved. They send another email when it’s approved. Good system all around.

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