Tough TIFF Summary

Conformance with the Universal Companion Document (UCD) for check image exchange also means compliance with the X9.100-181, "Tough TIFF"  standard.The “Tough TIFF” standard is more specific on how images should be described and stored in Image Cash Letter Files. This will reduce the number of variations and improve interoperability in the check image exchange clearing.

Financial institutions will need to get their image exchange systems compatible with the new standard and this will likely result in system changes or upgrades. The good news is that unlike items that failed the traditional IQA testing, most TIFF non-conformance issues can be automatically corrected instead of requiring a rescan of the original paper item. The ECCHO organization has amended its rules to specifically permit TIFF tag correction of non-conforming items.

Financial institutions should also be aware that there is a very high incident rate of non-conforming TIFF images being exchanged today. Many scanning devices and applications were built before there was awareness of this new TIFF standard. Sending banks will either need to upgrade existing systems to comply or employ TIFF translation processes into their workflow. Bankers’ banks, aggregators and service organizations will need to provide the correction facility on their incoming TIFF images before passing them on.

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) is the file format required to be used for check image exchange. The file contains a series of “Tag Values” that are the attributes of how the image is described and stored inside the image file. For example, there are tags that describe the dimensions and resolutions of the image. There are also tags that describe how the image is encoded in the file. (i.e., a 1 represents a black pixel; a 0 represents a white pixel).

The original TIFF specification allowed a lot of flexibility in how an image was stored and described. This led to many different variations of TIFF image files that cause interoperability issues with legacy image clearing systems. In too many cases there are even outright wrong variations of TIFF image files being created that cannot be processed at all.

The industry, through organizations such as ECCHO, is also permitting institutions to reformat non-conforming TIFF image files to conforming ones. Common non-conformance TIFF issues are easily corrected by translating how the image is described and stored in the image file. This process does not alter the image data. Altering image data would result in pixel data being changed from white to black or vise versa. This does not happen with the TIFF translation process. ECCHO recently made changes to their rules to allow the receiving bank to reformat TIFF tags as long as the image is not materially altered.

All My Papers has an easy to use software application called X9 QUALIFIER that will test the images in X9.37 Image Cash Letter files and will translate non-conforming TIFF images into conforming TIFF images.

This application will:

  • Test and correct for TIFF Compliance to the Tough TIFF standard
  • Test for Image Quality
  • Test for MICR Code Line Mismatches while minimizing the suspect to unusable item ratio

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