Many software companies who specialize in banking solutions have already gotten into the act, with companies like Fiserv, which provides information management systems to banks, and NetDeposit, which offers Check 21 software products to banks. Fiserv, using NetDeposit's software suite, is offering printing of substitute checks, acting as a gateway to its account processing and check processing clients.
Financial Insights' study takes a look at the actual numbers -- predicting the number of paper checks that will either be imaged, converted to ACH transfers, or converted into electronic checks up until the year 2010. The study notes that it is likely to take several years for paper checks to be completely converted to electronic form, but to stay ahead of the trend -- and to stay competitive --banks need to take action now.
Forrester also notes that adoption of check imaging will be slow for a while, with only 12 percent of US commercial banks adopting check image exchange in 2004. This means for the present time, only the biggest banks --and their biggest customers --will derive any benefit from it. But, Forrester predicts that by 2008, all banks with more than $10 billion in assets will have begun implementation. There's a distinct competitive threat from today's early adopters, and banks of all sizes must jump on this bandwagon quickly, or get eaten. Ultimately, the banks that benefit the most will be not only those who use check imaging for their own convenience, but those who also offer their banking customers--all of them, even us little guys--conveniences as well. The day I can fax a deposit to my bank, and have it credited to my account immediately, will be the day I acknowledge the usefulness and wisdom of Check 21. But until banks get on the stick and start giving some of the benefits to small-time consumers like me, it's nothing but a high-tech tool to help banks make money by disservicing their customers.