Check Imaging's Key Is More Efficient Processing
Fleming, D. Trent, American Banker
Now that numerous banks have successfully implemented check imaging systems, the question becomes: What shall we do with them?
Rather than finding contentment in the delivery of image statements and basic image research products, many banks are seeking ways to improve customer service, gain even greater operational benefits, and open doors to new fee-income opportunities. Similarly, banks contemplating the implementation of a check imaging system are looking for additional ways of justifying such an investment. Though there are numerous issues to be considered in this context, here are some of the most important.
Cross-platform image integration. Today, all institutions should be pursuing a strategy of imaging for all documents. Daily reports, signature cards, checks, and loan documents, to name a few, can all be stored and retrieved electronically.
Institutions that find ways of integrating the storage and retrieval of all documents will be much better suited to quickly respond to both external and internal customer needs.
One example of this integration would be viewing a checking account report that was transferred to a microfiche-replacing report archival system and then highlighting a particular item and bringing its image to the screen.
Image-enabling of core accounting systems. Perhaps the most important of all image integration strategies is the enhancement of core-accounting systems with images.
Far from providing a separate method of viewing an image, an integrated system will add images to other information - balances, transaction history, account type - available from the traditional inquiry screens. This will be true of loan documents, check images, signature cards, and statement pages, for example.
By providing access to images through traditional screens that users are familiar with, vendors add significant value to their existing applications, and minimize learning curves as images are introduced into the banking environment.
These capabilities will come about in one of two ways. Some application vendors have chosen to develop their own imaging systems, placing them in an excellent position to integrate their core systems with the images of checks and other documents.
Others have taken the path of closely aligning with a particular imaging vendor to add similar functionality to their products. Each path has its pitfalls, but we expect banks to be able to successfully implement systems of either type, providing that a bank does an appropriate analysis of its needs.
Imaging in the checkless society What about imaging in terms of efforts to eliminate checks as a means of payment? Clearly, Federal Reserve and private bank initiatives are directed toward truncation of paper, and electronic forward and return item presentment. In addition, electronic payment alternatives - ranging from bill payment to debit cards to financial electronic data interchange - are gaining in popularity.
However, these trends must be put in proper perspective. Last year, approximately 60 billion checks were processed in this country. Of those, only about 18 billion - less than a third - were personal checks. …