New system speeds up overseas check cashing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. A.J. Bosker
  • Air Force Print News
Many of the Air Force's overseas cashier cages will soon use a new paperless check cashing system.

The Military Paper Check Conversion system, developed by the U.S. Treasury, instantly converts paper checks presented to the cashier into an electronic image to be processed by the financial institution, according to Michael G. Weber, Air Force banking officer at the Pentagon.

MPCC will be able to send an electronic image through the Federal Reserve Bank to the check writer's account within 24 to 48 hours, greatly reducing the time it takes to process overseas checks, Weber said.

Even with MPCC in place, airmen are still able to write checks at the cashier cage as before, he said. The only difference now is that their check is scanned, voided and returned to them immediately. The scanned image of the check is then transmitted securely to the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland, Ohio. Once there, the image is submitted to the financial institution for payment, he said.

"However, because the check will be processed within hours versus weeks, people need to make sure that they have sufficient funds in their account before cashing a check," Weber said. "If the MPCC image is returned due to insufficient funds, we will resubmit the image on the military payday, thus assuring that the funds are collected."

Weber said this will reduce workload and costs currently associated with the collection of bad checks.

However, it may also trigger financial institutions to charge additional insufficient funds fees every time the debt is submitted for payment, he cautioned. Additionally, the check writer will be identified in the MPCC system as having written bad checks in the past.

This information will be automatically provided to the cashier cage the next time that person tries to write a check, a policy aimed at reducing the number of bad checks accepted by the Air Force, Weber said.

"The Air Force can streamline its overseas check cashing process and reduce the number of bad checks received, and airmen and their families have a more accurate picture of their accounts," he explained. This system will automatically summarize and balance the end-of-day's business, thus making the cashiers' job easier.

In many overseas locations, it often takes several weeks for checks to be processed and submitted to the financial institution for payment. This created problems when people didn't note the check in their checkbook or didn't tell their family members back home that they had written a check, he said.

"MPCC makes it easier for airmen and their family members to have a more accurate picture of their account and avoid having a 'surprise' check clear weeks after it was written," Weber said.

MPCC has been tested at Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany; Incirlik and Izmir ABs, Turkey; and Stavanger AB, Norway, he said.