Wednesday, April 6, 2011

No end in sight to paper checks

By Mark Brousseau

While the Federal Reserve Bank’s latest figures show that electronic payments continue to achieve strong growth, the data also suggests we’re still a long way off from the eagerly-anticipated “checkless” society.

With 28.8 billion checks written in 2010 -- the last year the Federal Reserve researched -- the number of checks written between 2007 and 2010 declined by about 6 percent per year. What’s more, 92 percent of checks are now cleared electronically between U.S. banks, according to the Federal Reserve’s research.

So what should remittance processors make of this data?

“It’s clear that U.S. check volumes continue to decline at a gradual rate,” says Creditron Founder and CEO Wally Vogel, “But checks are not likely to disappear any time soon.” While those might be sobering words from some paper-weary operations managers, they can take heart in the fact that paper deposits – a drag on costs and efficiency – are experiencing a rapid decline as Check 21 emerges as the method of choice for deposits (Vogel points to NACHA figures showing a big drop in Accounts Receivable Check Conversion volumes). “This is bad news for manufacturers of high-volume check encoding equipment, but it’s a great opportunity for providers of Check 21 remote deposit technology. There are many remittance shops that manually process their transactions, or have outdated solutions that don’t support Check 21. With banks continuing to lower their fees for Check 21 deposits, many of these shops will likely look for electronic solutions.”

Vogel notes that Creditron has recently seen strong demand for its Check 21 remote deposit capabilities. “The market is recognizing the value of remittance solutions that offer Check 21 remote deposit, as well as an image-based workflow. Against this backdrop, I think we are well-positioned for success and growth.”

What do you think?

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