Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20060167794 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/388,539
Publication dateJul 27, 2006
Filing dateMar 23, 2006
Priority dateAug 20, 2002
Also published asCA2495429A1, CN1689014A, EP1543455A2, EP1543455A4, US20040039702, US20060074803, WO2004019155A2, WO2004019155A3
Publication number11388539, 388539, US 2006/0167794 A1, US 2006/167794 A1, US 20060167794 A1, US 20060167794A1, US 2006167794 A1, US 2006167794A1, US-A1-20060167794, US-A1-2006167794, US2006/0167794A1, US2006/167794A1, US20060167794 A1, US20060167794A1, US2006167794 A1, US2006167794A1
InventorsDonald Crowell, Paul Blair, Kenneth Algiene, Mark Thompson
Original AssigneeFirst Data Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Bill payment systems and methods using a kiosk
US 20060167794 A1
Abstract
A method of transferring funds includes providing a first kiosk having a negotiable instrument acceptor. The negotiable instrument acceptor is configured to acquire information from a negotiable instrument. The method further includes providing a first kiosk access device to a first customer. Providing the first kiosk access device includes receiving and storing personal information associated with the first customer. The method also includes, at the first kiosk, acquiring access information from the first kiosk access device, based at least in part on the access information, determining whether to provide access to the kiosk, via the negotiable instrument acceptor, receiving a negotiable instrument, acquiring negotiable instrument information from the negotiable instrument, and, based at least in part on the negotiable instrument information, determining whether to provide the customer access to value represented by the negotiable instrument.
Images(9)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(24)
1-18. (canceled)
19. A method for paying a bill using a kiosk, the method comprising:
accessing a kiosk having a display screen, a keypad and a communication device to permit the kiosk to communicate over a network;
displaying on the display screen a bill payment option;
selecting the bill payment option;
selecting a method of payment to pay the bill;
entering into the kiosk account information;
transmitting from the kiosk to a host computer system an electronic file containing transaction data relating to payment of the bill;
receiving at the kiosk a verification of the transaction data;
displaying on the display screen a summary of the transaction data including any services charges;
prompting for a remittance of funds to consummate payment of the bill.
20. A method as in claim 19, wherein the kiosk includes a cash dispenser, and further comprising dispensing cash from the cash dispenser, and further comprising remitting cash to consummate payment of the bill.
21. A method as in claim 19, wherein the kiosk further includes a value acceptance port for receiving value to pay for the bill, and further comprising entering a negotiable instrument into the value acceptance port to pay for the bill.
22. A method as in claim 19, wherein the kiosk further includes a card reader, and further comprising reading payment information from a card to provide funds to pay for the bill.
23. A method as in claim 19, wherein the method of payment to pay the bill is selected from a group consisting of cash, a debit card, a credit card, a money order, a check and a stored value card.
24. A method as in claim 19, further comprising entering into the kiosk a password and a sender PIN.
25. A method as in claim 19, wherein the kiosk includes a telephone, and further comprising communicating with a customer service representative using the telephone to assist with payment of the bill.
26. A method as in claim 19, wherein the kiosk includes a speaker, and further comprising communicating with a customer service representative using the speaker to assist with payment of the bill.
27. A kiosk comprising:
a housing;
a display screen coupled to the housing;
a keypad coupled to the housing;
a communication device to permit the kiosk to communicate over a network;
a processor in communication with the display screen, the keypad and the communication device, wherein the processor configured to:
display on the display screen a bill payment option;
receive a selection of the bill payment option;
receive a selection of a method of payment to pay the bill;
receive account information;
transmit to a host computer system an electronic file containing transaction data relating to payment of the bill;
receive a verification of the transaction data;
display on the display screen a summary of the transaction data including any services charges;
prompt for a remittance of funds to consummate payment of the bill.
28. A kiosk as in claim 27, further comprising a cash dispenser, and wherein the processor is configured to dispense cash from the cash dispenser and to process a cash payment for payment of the bill.
29. A kiosk as in claim 27, further comprising a value acceptance port for receiving a negotiable instrument to pay for the bill.
30. A kiosk as in claim 27, further comprising a reader that is configured to read payment information from a card to provide funds to pay for the bill.
31. A kiosk as in claim 27, further comprising a reader is configured to read data from a group of instruments consisting of cash, a debit card, a credit card, a money order, a check and a stored value card.
32. A kiosk as in claim 27, wherein the processor is further configured to receive a password and a sender PIN.
33. A kiosk as in claim 27, further comprising a telephone to permit a user to communicate with a customer service representative to assist with payment of the bill.
34. A kiosk as in claim 27, further comprising a speaker to permit a user to communicate with a customer service representative to assist with payment of the bill.
35. A method for paying a bill using a kiosk, the method comprising:
accessing a kiosk having a display screen, a keypad and a communication device to permit the kiosk to communicate over a network;
displaying on the display screen a bill payment option;
selecting the bill payment option;
selecting a method of payment to pay the bill;
contacting a customer service representative to receive a sender identifier;
entering into the kiosk the sender identifier;
entering into the kiosk account information;
transmitting from the kiosk to a host computer system an electronic file containing transaction data relating to payment of the bill;
receiving at the kiosk a verification of the transaction data;
displaying on the display screen a summary of the transaction data including any services charges;
prompting for a remittance of funds to consummate payment of the bill; and
entering into the kiosk payment information to pay for the bill.
36. A method as in claim 35, wherein the kiosk includes a cash dispenser, and further comprising dispensing cash from the cash dispenser, and further comprising remitting cash to consummate payment of the bill.
37. A method as in claim 35, wherein the kiosk further includes a value acceptance port for receiving value to pay for the bill, and further comprising entering a negotiable instrument into the value acceptance port to pay for the bill.
38. A method as in claim 35, wherein the kiosk further includes a card reader, and further comprising reading payment information from a card to provide funds to pay for the bill.
39. A method as in claim 35, wherein the method of payment to pay the bill is selected from a group consisting of cash, a debit card, a credit card, a money order, a check and a stored value card.
40. A method as in claim 35, wherein the kiosk further includes a printer, and further comprising printing a receipt.
41. A method for associating additional value with a stored value instrument using a kiosk, the method comprising:
accessing a kiosk having a display screen, a keypad, a presentation instrument reader, a cash dispenser, a value acceptance port and a communication device to permit the kiosk to communicate over a network;
receiving a cash payout from the cash dispenser;
reading information from a presentation instrument that is associated with an account that has a previously stored value associated therewith;
entering into the kiosk an additional amount of value to add to the presentation instrument;
entering cash into the value acceptance port; and
associating the additional amount of value with the account.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/241,810, entitled MULTI-PURPOSE KIOSK AND METHODS, filed on Sep. 29, 2005 by Crowell et al, which is a continuation-in-part of, and claims the benefit of, co-pending, commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/225,410, entitled MULTI-PURPOSE KIOSK AND METHODS,” filed on Aug. 20, 2002, by Blair, et al., the entire disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference for all purposes.

This application is related to the following co-pending, commonly-assigned United States Patent Applications: U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/737,912, entitled, “ONLINE METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR ORDERING AND HAVING DELIVERED A PAPER GREETING MESSAGE AND PAYMENT INSTRUMENT” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-001000US), filed on Dec. 15, 2000, by Peter Karas and James Cowell; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/010,068, entitled, “ELECTRONIC GIFT GREETING” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-000610US), filed on Dec. 6, 2001, by Peter Karas, James Cowell, James R. Yoder, Matt F. Golub, and Aamer Ali Baig; U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/346,363, entitled, “METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR PROCESSING MONEY-ORDER REQUESTS” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-007610US), filed on Jan. 4, 2002, by Joseph Cachey, III, Dean Seifert, Mark Thompson, Judy Fleming, and Carol Darlan; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/321,783, entitled, “METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR PROCESSING TRANSACTION REQUESTS” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-007630US), filed on Dec. 16, 2002, by Joseph Cachey III, Dean A. Seifert, Mark Thompson, Judy Fleming, Carol Darland and Ken Algiene; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/955,747, entitled, “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR TRANSFERRING STORED VALUE” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-000300US), filed on Sep. 18, 2001, by Kurt Hansen and Joseph Cachey, III; and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/040,568, entitled, “SYSTEMS AND METHODS OF INTRODUCING AND RECEIVING INFORMATION ACROSS A COMPUTER NETWORK” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-003000US), filed on Jan. 4, 2002, by Dean Seifert and Mark Thompson, which applications are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to financial transactions. The present invention relates more specifically to systems and methods for sending and receiving value using unmanned financial transaction kiosks.

Third party money transfer services are well known, one example of which is the service provided by Western Union, a subsidiary of First Data Corporation of Greenwood Village, Colo. The services are used extensively by the unbanked to transfer money and pay bills through the use of wire transfers, money orders, and the like. The use of such services, however, usually requires face-to-face contact between an individual representing the third party service provider and the sender and/or the receiver. For example, if a sender is “wiring” money to a receiver, the money is typically deposited with the third party in person, and the sender typically obtains the money from the third party in person. If the money is transferred in the form of a money order, the sender typically deposits the money with the third party in person and receives a money order.

For a number of reasons, systems and methods are needed that provide convenient access to money transfer services with less dependency on manned money transfer locations.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention provide a method of transferring funds. The method includes providing a first kiosk having a negotiable instrument acceptor. The negotiable instrument acceptor is configured to acquire information from a negotiable instrument. The method further includes providing a first kiosk access device to a first customer. Providing the first kiosk access device includes receiving and storing personal information associated with the first customer. The method also includes, at the first kiosk, acquiring access information from the first kiosk access device, based at least in part on the access information, determining whether to provide access to the kiosk, via the negotiable instrument acceptor, receiving a negotiable instrument, acquiring negotiable instrument information from the negotiable instrument, and, based at least in part on the negotiable instrument information, determining whether to provide the customer access to value represented by the negotiable instrument.

In some cases, the method further includes providing an access code to the first customer. The method may include providing a second kiosk having a currency dispenser, communicable coupling the first and second kiosks, at the second kiosk, receiving the transaction identifier from a second customer, receiving a request from the second customer to dispense funds associated with the transaction identifier, and dispensing the finds from the cash dispenser. The method also may include providing a second kiosk having a currency dispenser, communicable coupling the first and second kiosks, at the second kiosk, receiving the transaction identifier from the first customer, receiving a request from the customer to dispense funds associated with the transaction identifier, and dispensing the finds from the cash dispenser. The method may include providing a currency dispenser at the first kiosk, at the first kiosk, receiving the transaction identifier from a second customer, receiving a request from the second customer to dispense funds associated with the transaction identifier, and dispensing the finds from the cash dispenser. Determining whether to provide the customer access to value represented by the negotiable instrument may include transmitting the negotiable instrument information to a negotiable instrument verification service and receiving a verification message from the negotiable instrument verification service. The negotiable instrument information includes at least an account number and a financial institution identifier. The verification message may include a score, in which case determining whether to provide the customer access to value represented by the negotiable instrument may include comparing the score to a predetermined threshold and, based at least in part on the comparison, determining whether to provide the customer access to the value represented by the negotiable instrument. The method may include providing a currency dispenser at the first kiosk, receiving a request from the customer to receive the value represented by the negotiable instrument, and dispensing the finds from the cash dispenser. The first kiosk may be an Automated Teller Machine. The first kiosk access device may be an ATM access card.

In other embodiments, a method of transferring money from a sender to a recipient includes providing an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) access card to a first customer, including receiving personal information associated with the first customer and storing the personal information at a host computer system. The ATM access card has an access key associated therewith. The method also includes providing an ATM having a check acceptor. The check acceptor includes a Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) reader. The method also includes, at the ATM, acquiring the access key from ATM access card, sending the access key to the host computer system, at the host computer system, determining whether to allow the first customer access to the ATM, and providing a message to the ATM based on the determination. The message includes at least a portion of the personal information associated with the first customer. The method also includes, at the ATM, receiving a check from the customer via the check acceptor, acquiring check information from the check using the MICR reader, sending at least a portion of the check information and at least a portion of the personal information associated with the first customer to a third-party check verification service, at the ATM, receiving a verification message from the third-party check verification service, and based at least in part on the verification message, determining whether to allow the first customer access to funds associated with the check.

The method may include receiving an input from the first customer to transfer funds and providing a transaction identifier to the first customer. The method also may include providing a kiosk having a currency dispenser, communicable coupling the ATM and the kiosk, at the kiosk, receiving the transaction identifier from a second customer, receiving an input from the second customer to receive the funds associated with the transaction identifier, and dispensing the finds from the cash dispenser. The method also may include providing a cash dispenser associated with the ATM, receiving an input from the first customer to receive the funds as currency, and dispensing the currency to the first customer. The check instrument information may include at least an account number and a financial institution identifier. The verification message may include a score, in which case determining whether to provide the customer access to funds associated with the check may include comparing the score to a predetermined threshold and based at least in part on the comparison, determining whether to provide the customer access to funds associated with the check.

In still other embodiments, a method of transferring money from a sender to a recipient includes providing an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) access card to a first customer, including receiving personal information associated with the first customer and storing the personal information at a host computer system. The ATM access card has an access key associated therewith. The method also includes providing an ATM having a currency acceptor, at the ATM, acquiring the access key from ATM access card, sending the access key to the host computer system, at the host computer system, determining whether to allow the first customer access to the ATM, and providing a message to the ATM based on the determination. The message may include at least a portion of the personal information associated with the first customer. The method further includes, at the ATM, receiving currency from the customer via the currency acceptor, receiving an input from the first customer to transfer funds, and providing a transaction identifier to the first customer. The method further includes providing a kiosk having a currency dispenser, communicable coupling the ATM and the kiosk, at the kiosk, receiving the transaction identifier from a second customer, receiving an input from the second customer to receive the funds associated with the transaction identifier, and dispensing the finds from the cash dispenser.

Reference to the remaining portions of the specification, including the drawings and claims, will realize other features and advantages of the present invention. Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the present invention, are described in detail below with respect to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings wherein like reference numerals are used throughout the several drawings to refer to similar components. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a dash and a second label that distinguishes among the similar components. If only the first reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components having the same first reference label irrespective of the second reference label.

FIG. 1A illustrates a multi-purpose kiosk according to embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1B illustrates a system for performing money transfers that includes kiosks, such as the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 2 illustrates a method of performing financial transactions according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 3 illustrates a method of paying a bill according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 4 illustrates a method of sending funds according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 5 illustrates a method of composing a gift message according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 6 illustrates a method of receiving funds according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 7 illustrates a method of receiving value according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 8 illustrates a method of purchasing a money order according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 9 illustrates a method of cashing a check according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 10 illustrates a method of transacting using value cards according to embodiments of the invention, which method may use the kiosk of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 11 illustrates the send side of a money transfer process according to further embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates a receive side of a money transfer process according to further embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides systems and methods for transferring value between individuals using unmanned terminals, such as kiosks, automated teller machines (ATMs), and/or the like (hereinafter collective referred to as “kiosks”). Herein, “value” refers to both monetary value and non-monetary value, such as long distance minutes, airline miles, customer loyalty points, and the like.

In some embodiments of the present invention, customers are able to transfer value to a recipient without establishing a deposit account with a bank or other financial institution, although the infrastructure of such institutions may be used. In some embodiments, the source of funds may be cash or negotiable instruments, such as third party checks, money orders, and the like.

In some embodiments, customers acquire access cards for which they provide personal information. While not necessary technically, such cards may be necessary to comply with legal requirements related to money transfers.

According to embodiments of the invention, a sender accesses a kiosk, possibly using a personalized access card. The customer then deposits funds, either in the form of cash or a negotiable instrument. In the case of a negotiable instrument, a check reader of the kiosk acquires information from the instrument and performs a verification. The verification may include determining that the instrument is associated with a known financial institution, that the instrument is “live” (e.g., not reported lost or stolen and not already cashed), and that sufficient funds exist to cover the negotiable instrument amount. In some embodiments, performing the validation includes sending necessary information to a third party check verification service.

Once the funds are available to the sender, the sender can designate an amount to be transferred to a recipient. The amount may be all of the amount deposited or only a portion of it. In some cases, the amount comes from multiple checks or a combination of cash and checks. Any amount not transferred may be dispensed to the sender or transferred to a different recipient.

The recipient need not be specified. For example, the sender may receive a transaction identifier which may be used by a recipient to access the funds at a kiosk. In some cases, the transaction identifier includes a password; in others the transaction identifier, in combination with an amount of money transferred, serves as a transaction identifier/password combination.

Thereafter, anyone in possession of the transaction identifier (and password and/or amount, in some embodiments) is able to access the funds at a kiosk, which may be the same kiosk or a different kiosk. In some embodiments, the recipient also accesses the machine using a personalized access card, although this is not a requirement.

In other embodiments, the present invention provides multi-purpose kiosks that allow money transfer service providers to reach more potential customers without the need for agents. The kiosks provide customers with means for communicating electronically with money transfer service providers or third party intermediaries, and allow the service providers to collect funds, verify identifications, dispense funds, and perform other necessary functions. Additionally, the kiosks may be equipped to provide services, such as, for example, sending greeting messages and exchanging value among value cards or accounts. Such multi-purpose kiosks and methods for using them are described in more detail below.

Herein, “value card” is used to refer to any of a wide variety of stored or representative value cards. Such cards include cash cards, smart cards, phone cards, point-of-purchase cards, and the like. Value cards may actually store the value on the cards themselves, or store account information relating to an account wherein the value is stored. Terminals such as hypercom terminals may be used to read account or value information from value cards.

FIG. 1 illustrates one example of a multi-purpose kiosk 100 according to embodiments of the invention. The kiosk 100 is presented as an illustration only, and this example should not be considered limiting. In light of the disclosure herein, many other examples of kiosks according to the present invention are apparent to those skilled in the art.

Kiosks, such as the multi-purpose kiosk 100, may be located wherever customers might obtain access to them. For example, shopping malls, airports, postal facilities, and the like, would all be ideal locations for such kiosks. Kiosks may be connected to a network, such as a telephone system, via a wire line or wireless connection. A computing device, such as a central processor 101, controls many of the functions of the kiosk.

The kiosk 100 includes a monitor 102 and a keypad 104. The monitor may include a touchscreen that allows users to enter information by touching buttons displayed on the screen. Alternatively or additionally, users may enter information using the keypad 104. The keypad 104 may contain both numbers and letters. Additionally, the keypad 104 may include special purpose buttons for selecting functions according to the invention.

The kiosk 100 also includes a camera 106, a speaker 108, and a microphone 110. The camera 106, speaker 108, and microphone 110 may be used to interact with a customer service representative, among other functions. The customer service representative's image may appear on the monitor 102. Alternatively or additionally, a telephone 112 may be used to interact with the customer service representative.

The kiosk 100 also includes a cash dispenser 114 and a coin dispenser 116. Some embodiments of the invention do not include the coin dispenser in favor of other alternatives for transacting in amounts less than the lowest denomination of paper currency used in conjunction with the kiosk, as will be described. A cash/check scanner 118 is provided for receiving funds in the form of currency or certain types of paper instruments. For example, an optical character reader, such as a MICR reader, may be used to read account information from checks, money orders, and other negotiable instruments. In addition, a card reader 120, such as a hypercom terminal, is provided for using any of a wide variety of currency exchange media. For example, the card reader 120 may read magnetic strips, such as those commonly found on credit and debit cards, customer loyalty cards, value cards, and the like. The card reader 120 may also read “chips,” such as those associated with certain types of “smart cards.” The card reader 120 may also read other types of currency exchange media, including infrared and radio frequency devices. For instance, a customer may be able to “beam” account information into the card reader 120 using an infrared transmitter associated with a PDA (personal digital assistant). Thus, reader 120 may perform any of a wide variety of reading functions. Additionally, the card reader 120 may be able to write information to value cards, and the like.

The kiosk 100 also includes a receipt printer 122, a money order printer 124, and a cash card dispenser 126. The receipt printer 122 provides users with receipts of transactions and other information, as will be explained in more detail hereinafter. The money order printer 124 prints money orders in amounts requested by users, as will be described. Examples of money order printers are described in more detail in U.S. Pat. No. 6,015,087, entitled “APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR ISSUING DOCUMENTS OF VALUE,” which patent is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/751,126, entitled “MONEY ORDER ENCASHMENT VIA THE FDX 400,” filed on Dec. 28, 2000, by Earney Stoutenburg et al., which application is incorporated herein by reference. The cash card dispenser 126 dispenses cash cards, or other value cards, that may store value or store account information that users may use to access currency or other value. The cash card dispenser 126 may be used in combination with the card reader 120, wherein the cash card dispenser 126 dispenses value cards and the card reader 120 writes information to the value cards. The kiosk 100 may also contain holders such as marketing material holder 128 for educating users regarding the use of the kiosk 100, or to provide users with supplies needed in the course of conducting transactions using the kiosk 100.

FIG. 1A illustrates a system 129 within which one or more of kiosk 100 may be used. The system includes a plurality of kiosks 100, each connected to the other in an environment via a network 130. The network 130 may be any of a wide variety of networks, including, for example, a wide area network, a local area network, the Internet, and the like. The system also includes a computer 132 that may be used by a representative of a third party money (or other value) transfer service to access information relating to transactions within the system. Transaction information may be stored at, for example, a database 134. Additionally, the system may include an exchange server 136 for exchanging value represented in different units according to predetermined exchange rates, as will be described further hereinafter.

The kiosks 100 may also be connected to a second network, such as a telephone network 138. The telephone network 138 facilitates communication between the telephone 112 at each kiosk and a customer service representative telephone 140. Thus, a customer service representative 142 may communicate by telephone to a customer at a kiosk 100 and use the computer 132 to, for example, access information, authorize transactions, resolve problems, and the like. These and other functions of the system 129 will be described further below. It is also possible for the kiosk to use either the telephone network 138 or the network 130 exclusively for all communication.

FIG. 2 illustrates a method 200 for performing transactions using the kiosk 100 according to embodiments of the invention. As a user approaches, the kiosk 100 may be in a dormant, or passive, mode. For example, the kiosk 100 may have an advertising message appearing on the monitor 102. Alternatively, the kiosk 100 may be displaying a brief message to educate users on the use of the kiosk 100. In order to begin using the kiosk, the user may initiate operation of the kiosk 100 by, for example, touching the monitor 102, as indicated by operation 202. In response, a transaction menu screen may be displayed, providing a menu of functions from which the user may choose. Possible functions include, but are not limited to: sending and receiving funds 204; cashing a check 206; receiving a money order 208; and transacting using value accounts 210. Each of these functions will be explained in more detail hereinafter.

If the user selects to send or receive funds 204, a second function menu may be displayed having additional options. These may include, for example, pay bill 212, send funds 214 and receive funds 216, each of which will be explained further.

FIG. 3 illustrates the pay bill option 212 in more detail. A user selects the pay bill option at operation 302. A display screen allows the user to select a method of payment. For example, the user may elect to pay using cash, debit or credit card, money order, check, stored or representative value card, and the like. Thus, the user selects a method of payment at operation 304. The user is then requested to enter a password, a sender PIN, account information, or the like at operation 306. If the user does not yet have a sender PIN or other appropriate information, the user may contact a customer service representative to obtain authorization at operation 308. The telephone 112 may be configured to auto-dial a customer service representative when the handset is lifted. Alternatively, the telephone 112 may have one or more speed-dial buttons that allow the user to contact a customer service representative. In some embodiments of the invention, the user may interact with a customer service representative using the monitor 102, camera 106, speaker 108, and microphone 110. The customer service representative gathers sufficient information from the user to complete the transaction and associate the transaction with a sender PIN, password or other identifier.

At operation 310, the kiosk may transmit an electronic file containing a summary of the transaction to a host computer for verification. Once the transaction is verified, the kiosk presents the user with a summary of the transaction, including any applicable service charges, and gives the user an opportunity to accept or cancel the transaction, also at operation 310. The user is then prompted to remit the funds necessary to complete the transaction at operation 312.

Many options are available for remitting funds. The user may insert cash or an acceptable check into the cash/check scanner 118 of the kiosk 100. Alternatively or additionally, the user may swipe a debit card, a credit card, or a stored or representative value card using the card reader 120, some of which may result in the user being prompted to enter a PIN associated with the card. If the user has received funds at the kiosk 100 (as will be explained in detail hereinafter), the user may use those funds to complete the transaction. Other means for remitting funds are possible. For example, the user may “beam” funds (i.e., account information representing funds) from a PDA into an infrared reader associated with, for example, the card reader 120. After the user remits sufficient funds, the kiosk may verify the funds and, if acceptable, provide the user with a receipt at operation 314, which may be printed by the receipt printer 122.

FIG. 4 illustrates the send funds option 214 in more detail. A user selects the send funds option at operation 402. At operation 404, the kiosk 100 prompts the user to select a method of payment. The kiosk 100 may be configured to accept any of a number of different types of payment, including, for example, cash, debit or credit card, money order, stored or representative value card, cash card, and/or funds received in a previous kiosk transaction. In response to the prompt, the user selects a method of payment. At operation 406, the user contacts a customer service representative to arrange a transaction and receive a sender PIN or other identifier. The user may provide the customer service representative with, for example, the name or other unique identifier of the recipient, the recipient's address, the amount of money to transfer, and/or the like. The user then enters the identifier at operation 408. The user may contact the customer service representative using the means previously discussed with reference to operation 308 of FIG. 3. At operation 410, the kiosk may verify the transaction, which may include communicating with a host computer, and provide the user with the opportunity to accept the transaction in response to a display screen that details the transaction and service charges. At operation 412, the user remits the necessary funds in a manner explained previously with reference to operation 312 of FIG. 3. Prior to completing the transaction, at operation 414 the user may compose a gift card to accompany the transaction. Composing a gift card will be explained in more detail immediately hereinafter. The transaction information is transmitted to a host computer or database, such as the database 134. The user may obtain a receipt of the transaction at operation 416.

FIG. 5 illustrates the operation 414 of composing a gift card in more detail. Methods for including gift cards with money transfers are more fully explained in previously incorporated U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/010,068, entitled, “ELECTRONIC GIFT GREETING” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-000610US). According to the present invention, a sender may include an electronic gift card with a money transfer initiated via the kiosk 100. The gift card may include a card design and greeting of the sender's choice. Additionally, the gift card may include audio and video greetings composed by the user at the kiosk 100 using, for example, the camera 106 and microphone 110. The audiovisual greeting may be observed by a receiver at a kiosk or through a web site, as will be described further below.

The user selects the option to compose a gift card at operation 502. At operation 504, the user selects a type of greeting (e.g., Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Congratulations, Get Well, etc.). At operation 506, the user selects whether to include audio and/or video greetings with the gift card. The video greeting may include, for example, a still photo, an animated video clip, live video clip, and/or the like. At operation 508 the user composes the audio and/or video portions of the greeting using the camera 106 and microphone 110. At operation 510, the user selects a card design, which the user may customize. At operation 512, the user approves the gift card, including the audiovisual portion, which is then transferred to a host computer or database to await delivery.

FIG. 6 illustrates the receive funds option 216 in greater detail. At operation 602, the user selects the receive funds operation. At operation 604, the user contacts a customer service representative to obtain a receiver PIN. To obtain the receiver PIN, the receiver may be required to provide identifying information to the customer service representative. The information may include a unique security question designed to prevent unauthorized access to the funds. For example, the sender may provide the customer service representative and the receiver with a security question and answer, which the receiver must provide to the customer service representative in order to receive the receiver PIN. At operation 606, the receiver enters the receiver PIN. After verifying the transaction, which may include sending a file to a host computer and receiving a response, the kiosk presents the user with several options respecting what to do with the received funds. For example, the user may receive the funds 608, send the funds 610, pay a bill 212, or purchase a money order 612. If the transfer of funds includes a gift card, the user may view and/or hear the gift card at operation 614. Additionally or alternatively, the user may receive a web site address where the user may view the gift card and/or listen to the audio message using a personal computer to access the web site.

FIG. 7 illustrates the receive funds option 608 in greater detail. At operation 702, a user selects to receive the funds. The user may receive the funds as currency, or as a representation of currency on a stored of representative value card. By selecting the latter, the user may receive a cash card for the full amount of the transaction at operation 704. The cash card may be dispensed by the kiosk 100 via cash card printer 124. Alternatively, if the user already has a cash card or a stored or representative value card, the user may receive the funds on the existing card by swiping the card through the card reader 120. In some embodiments, the cash card printer 124 dispenses a blank card which the user swipes through the card reader 120 to establish the value associated with the card.

Alternatively, the user may elect to receive the funds in currency. The user receives the cash portion of the currency at operation 706. If the kiosk is so equipped, the user may receive the coinage portion of the funds at operation 708. If the kiosk is not equipped to dispense currency or if the user elects otherwise, the user may receive value representing the coinage in one of several ways. First, the user may elect to donate the coinage to charity at operation 710. In doing so, the user may be presented with a list of charities from which to select the recipient. Second, the user may receive a money order representing the coinage at operation 712. Alternatively, at operation 714, the user may receive a cash card, receive value on an existing card, or receive a credit to an existing value account representing the coinage.

FIG. 8 illustrates the receive money order operation 208 in greater detail. At operation 802, the user selects the purchase money order option. At operation 804, the user selects a method for paying for the money order. The user enters the amount of the money order at operation 806. At operation 808, the users remits the funds in a manner similar to that described with reference to operation 312 of FIG. 3. After the kiosk verifies the transaction, the user approves the transaction at operation 810 and receives the money order at operation 812. The user obtains a receipt at operation 814.

FIG. 9 illustrates the cash check option 206 in greater detail. Cashing a check using the kiosk 100 includes a number of security and fraud risks similar to the well known risks of cashing checks generally (e.g., identification verification, forgery, insufficient funds, and the like). Thus, it may be the case that not all users can cash checks at kiosk 100 and/or that only certain types of checks may be cashed. Other options may include a delay period wherein the user's check is held until the funds are transferred to the kiosk operator. The present invention may include other well know security measures for mitigating the risks associated with providing cash in exchange for a check.

At operation 902 of FIG. 9, the user selects the cash check option. The user then contacts a customer service representative to approve the transaction and receive a PIN or other identifier. The user then inserts the check into the cash/check reader 118. It may be the case that only certain types of printed checks may be read by the cash/check reader 118. A MICR reader may be used to read the account number off the check, after which the kiosk communicates with a host system to verify the funds. The user may then receive the funds at operation 908, purchase a money order at operation 910, or send funds at operation 912.

FIG. 10 illustrates the value card transaction option 210 in more detail. For purposes of this discussion, a value card may include stored or representative value cards, and may include types of value other than Unites States currency. Some methods for exchanging value among such cards are more fully described in previously incorporated U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/955,747, entitled “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR TRANSFERRING STORED VALUE” (Attorney Docket No. 020375-000300US). The kiosk 100 may be used to transfer value among value cards or receive funds from value cards. Such transactions may also be accomplished via electronic terminals, such as hypercom terminals, not associated with the kiosk.

At operation 1002, the user selects the value card transaction option. If the user desires to transfer value among value cards, the user selects the transfer option at operation 1004. The user is then provided with a series of instructional display screens that direct the user to swipe the cards among which the user wishes to exchange value. Alternatively, the user may enter account information without swiping a card. During the process, the kiosk may communicate with a value exchange server, such at the exchange server 136 of FIG. 1B. For example, if the user is transferring value between value accounts having different units, the kiosk may send a request for an account balance to the exchange server 136 after receiving account information from a first account. In return, the exchange server may transmit information relating to the amount of value in the account. Further, after receiving the account information relating to the second account, the kiosk may send a request to the exchange server 136 seeking the exchange rate between the accounts. Then, the kiosk may present the information to the user and request the user to specify the amount of value to exchange. Alternatively, the kiosk may compile all the information for the transaction before sending the information to the exchange server, in which case the kiosk may store a file locally having the exchange rates between all possible value accounts. Other examples are possible.

If the user wishes to receive funds from a value card, the user selects the receive funds option at operation 1006. The user is then directed to swipe the card or enter account information from which to receive value and is prompted to enter the amount of value to receive from the account. If the user wishes to receive cash and the value account is in units other than dollars, the kiosk may contact the exchange server 136 to obtain the user's account balance and the exchange rate between the units of the account and cash. The user may also add funds to value cards in a similar manner.

FIG. 11 illustrates another exemplary method 1100 according to embodiments of the invention, which method may be implanted in the system of FIG. 1 or other appropriate system. According to this embodiment, a first customer accesses funds from either cash or a negotiable instrument. Thereafter the customer may transfer the funds to a second customer and/or receive funds back in the form of cash or a negotiable instrument. Both customers use, for example, a kiosk 100, which is an ATM in a specific embodiment. Neither customer need be a customer of the owner/operator of the kiosk or ATM.

The method 1100 optionally begins at block 1102 at which point a first customer obtains a kiosk access device (a.k.a., ATM access card, access device, access card etc.), which may include disclosing personal information, which personal information is stored at a host computer system. The access device has an access key (e.g., number, letters, symbols, or combination). This step is optional since all embodiments do not include using an access card to obtain access to the kiosk. At block 1104, the customer accesses a kiosk 100, which may include inserting the access card and entering a password or other security feature (e.g., biometric, etc.). In some embodiments, a personal ID, such as a credit card or driver's license may serve as an access card.

Once the customer obtains access to the kiosk, the customer remits funds as either cash or a negotiable instrument. This includes inserting the negotiable instrument into the cash/check scanner 118 at block 1106 or inserting currency at block 1108.

If the customer Inserts a negotiable instrument, then the negotiable instrument is validated at block 1110. This may include reading an account number, routing ID, check number, amount, payee, endorsement, and/or the like from the negotiable instrument. In some cases, this is done using a MICR reader; in other cases, Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Other embodiments are possible. Once the information is read, it may be sent to a third party negotiable instrument verification/validation service 180 from FIG. 1B, such as that provided by TELECHECK®, a First Data Company. Many different methods exist for validating the negotiable instrument, including verifying the existence of the bank and account number associated with the negotiable, confirming sufficient deposits to cover the negotiable instrument, determining whether the negotiable instrument is live (i.e., not reported lost, stolen, cashed, and/or canceled), and/or the like. In some embodiments, the third party service 180 returns a score that may include any number of factors that relate to the risk associated with accepting the check.

At block 1112, a decision is made whether to consider the negotiable instrument valid. In some embodiments, this includes comparing the score returned from the third party service to a threshold score, comparing the payee information to the personal information supplied by the customer to obtain the access card, and/or the like. If the negotiable instrument is considered valid, then the customer may receive cash at block 1114 or send funds at block 1116. If the negotiable instrument is not considered valid, then the customer may insert cash into the cash/check scanner 118 at block 1108.

If the customer send funds at block 1116, the customer need not designate a recipient. The customer may simply designate the funds to be held, after which the customer receives a transaction ID at block 1118. The customer also may receive a password or be allowed to enter a password to be used in combination with the transaction ID to access the funds. In some cases the transaction ID in combination with the amount deposited may serve as the transaction ID/password combination. Thereafter, the funds may be accessed by the customer or anyone that the customer allows to accesses the funds by virtue of having the transaction ID/password combination.

It should be appreciated that the customer may segment the funds into two or more transactions to facilitate sending money to different recipients. It should also be appreciated that the operator of the kiosk and associated system may charge a fee for the service it provides. The fee may be a percentage of the transaction amount, a flat fee per transaction, or some combination.

Attention is directed to FIG. 12, which illustrates an exemplary method 1200 of accessing funds held on deposit according to embodiments of the invention. The method may be performed by the original customer or a designee of the original customer, hereinafter collectively “recipient.” As with the previously-describe method 1100, the method 1200 begins by optionally obtaining an access card at block 1202 and accessing the kiosk at block 1204. Thereafter, the recipient enters the transaction ID at block 1206. This also may include entering the password, amount, or other security feature. Once the recipient obtains access to the funds, the recipient may elect to receive the funds or some portion thereof at block 1208 and/or send all or any portion of the funds to another at block 1210 (i.e., redeposit the funds according to the method 1100 of FIG. 11).

Having described several embodiments, it will be recognized by those of skill in the art that various modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents may be used without departing from the spirit of the invention. Additionally, a number of well known processes and elements have not been described in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the present invention. For example, those skilled in the art know how to connect computing devices to a network and configure multiprocessors to control the operation of peripheral devices and communicate with other computers. Accordingly, the above description should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention, which is defined in the following claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6149056 *May 12, 1997Nov 21, 2000Mr. Payroll CorporationAutomatic check cashing using biometric identification verification
US6308887 *Jul 2, 1999Oct 30, 2001Cash Technologies, Inc.Multi-transactional architecture
US7752132 *Feb 25, 2002Jul 6, 2010Efunds CorporationElectronic payment and authentication system with debit and identification data verification and electronic check capabilities
US20020082962 *Jul 27, 2001Jun 27, 2002Farris Robert G.Value transfer system for unbanked customers
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7539294 *Nov 9, 2007May 26, 2009Locus Telecommunications, Inc.System and method for providing prepaid telecommunication services
US7886969Apr 14, 2006Feb 15, 2011Visa U.S.A. Inc.Method and system for loading and reloading portable consumer devices
US20090076934 *Sep 19, 2008Mar 19, 2009Hamed ShahbaziPersonalized customer transaction system
US20120022924 *Oct 13, 2010Jan 26, 2012Nicole RunnelsMethod and system for creating a personalized experience with video in connection with a stored value token
Classifications
U.S. Classification705/40
International ClassificationG07F19/00, G06Q40/00
Cooperative ClassificationG07F19/20, G06Q20/10, G06Q20/1085, G06Q20/102, G06Q20/14, G07F19/203
European ClassificationG06Q20/14, G06Q20/10, G07F19/20, G06Q20/1085, G07F19/203, G06Q20/102
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 28, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: THE WESTERN UNION COMPANY, COLORADO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FIRST DATA CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:020959/0870
Effective date: 20080415
Nov 20, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: FIRST DATA CORPORATION, COLORADO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FIRST DATA CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:018538/0876
Effective date: 20061019
Owner name: THE WESTERN UNION COMPANY, COLORADO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CROWELL, DONALD R.;BLAIR, PAUL A.;ALGIENE, KENNETH;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:018538/0447;SIGNING DATES FROM 20051108 TO 20051122