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Earlier this week, PayPal updated their iPhone app. While there were a number of minor improvements, there was one major change that really stood out. They added the ability to capture and deposit checks into your account.
This sort of remote deposit has been around for awhile, though it’s been limited to a relatively small number of banks and credit unions. With this latest development, however, you have the ability to do remote deposit whether or not your bank supports it.
The key is that you have to have a PayPal account to do this, but… With over 87 million people using PayPal, chances are good that you already do. Once you’ve linked your PayPal account to a bank account, then it’s a simple (albeit somewhat slow) two-step to deposit your check and then transfer it to your bank.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Launch the app, login, and tap “Add Money From Checks.”
Step 2: Tap the “Continue” button to dismiss the welcome screen.
Step 3: Take a picture of the front of your check*.
Step 4: Take a picture of the back of your check*.
Step 5: Enter the amount of the check.
Step 6: Patiently wait… Up to six business days.
That’s it. It’s a very simple process, though it’s a bit disappointing that the check approval process takes so long. I’m not sure why it’s so slow, but I suspect it has to do with PayPal just being the middle man. In other words, they presumably need to work through their own bank to get the check cleared.
When you add the time required to transfer the money from PayPal to your bank, you may be looking at close to two weeks to get the money from your phone to your bank. Not great, but there are still times that I can envision using it – e.g., to deposit a check when I’m on the road and don’t have access to the bank.
Of course, once our bank adds remote deposit functionality to their iPhone app, I’ll probably never deposit another check into my PayPal account. But until then, it’s a potentially handy alternative to have.
*Note: The actual pictures are much clearer than this. These are just screenshots from my phone, and are thus a bit blurry.