Customers of First Bank & Trust of Evanston will soon be able to deposit checks to their accounts by transmitting a picture via their cell phone.

Managing Director Jay Lytle made the announcement Tuesday to stockholders at the annual meeting of First Evanston Bancorp, Inc., the holding company that owns and operates the bank.

Some mega-banks offer that service already, but it is significant that a locally-headquartered bank in Evanston has reached that level of technological sophistication.

Typically, the customer would endorse a check for deposit and then take a photograph of the front and back of the check before transmitting it to the bank via an app. The bank then confirms the deposit by email.

In addition to making deposits by phone, Lytle said, the new service, to be available around May 1, will also enable customers to deposit those checks via the scanning feature on their computer printers.

Bolstering the bank’s high-tech move was its experience with offering paperless bank statements to customers, which the bank recently offered and received acceptance by about a third of its customer base, which Lytle described as “a terrific response.”

The bank had promoted the paperless statements with a $10 credit to the customer’s account, which Lytle says approximates the postage paid for mailing paper statements in about a year, “which is a very short payback.”

Stockholders already knew that the bank had experienced a good earnings year in 2013, but CEO Robert R. Yohanan and Managing Director Howard Kain said that the favorable climate for earnings growth has continued into 2014.

In response to a shareholder’s question, Yohanan predicted that the bank’s total assets, which at the end of last year amounted to $857 million, would soon exceed a landmark $1 billion and could reach $1.4 billion within five years.

He said the bank’s positive earnings experience is based upon high-quality loans to small and mid-sized businesses that have been somewhat passed over by the huge banks they compete with.

Newly established loan-servicing offices in Itasca and Naperville, he said, have enabled the bank to maintain a high level of penetration in areas where some of the bank’s good customers have moved.

At the meeting, stockholders reelected Yohanan and three other directors–Joseph P. Flanagan, Jon O. Nelson, and Brogan M. Ptacin–to three-year terms on the company’s board.

Earlier story:

First Bank earnings rebound in 2013

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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