Auto lenders can expect to see more inquiries from repo agents who are using license-plate recognition camera systems to identify wanted vehicles after it was announced that MVCONNECT, the parent of MVTRAC, has agreed to license its technology to Digital Recognition Network (DRN) and Vigilant Video.
The three companies are major players in the LPR space in the recovery industry, and the 18-month legal battle between the parties had kept a lot of repossession agents on the sidelines, waiting to see what would happen before purchasing an LPR system.
License-plate recognition technology offers tremendous advantages to lenders and repo agents. Agents install a camera system in a vehicle (either their repo trucks or a spotter vehicle). The video cameras take pictures of the license plates and then a laptop computer hooked up to the video camera translates those images into letters and numbers using character recognition software. The letters and numbers can then be checked against a database to see if that vehicle is wanted for repossession.
A diligent repo agent can scan up to 10,000 plates a day.
MVCONNECT sued DRN and Vigilant Video in late 2010 for patent infringement.
The technology has existed in the repo space for a number of years, but acceptance has been hampered by high technology costs, a lack of acceptance by lenders, and uncertainty over competing systems. The announcement of a licensing agreement should keep agents from worrying that the system they choose will be out of business in six months. The cost of camera systems has decreased dramatically during the past few years, and more lenders are buying into the benefits of engaging an LPR network to identify and recover vehicles.