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Check 21 – Check Processing for the 21st Century

We are in the midst of what has been called the electronic age. The mainstream acceptance of the Internet has enabled information to flow freely and quickly. From email and chat being used to keep in touch with friends and family, to paying bills online rather than sending payment via the Post Office, everything seems to move faster. When the Check Clearing for the 21st Century, or Check 21 for short, was enacted in 2004, the speed with which check processing occurred increased. It was viewed as an easier and less expensive way for the financial industry to process check transactions. In the past, a check would be made out, signed and physically sent to a merchant for payment. The merchant would then deposit it into their bank account. From there, the check could be transferred several more times before the transaction was considered complete. This would take days, sometimes weeks. Under Check 21, the check never needs to move once it is received by the merchant’s bank. Instead of sending the check with the accompanying receipt to its next location, the bank scans it. Once it is an electronic image, it is transmitted to the proper location. The overall result of Check 21 to the banking industry is a substantial savings. There are no transportation fees needed to move thousands of checks from one location to another. Once the check is scanned, the data is uploaded in an approved format. Manual entry is not required and it takes only seconds to transmit the data to the proper network. This also decreases the amount of personnel required to maintain the volume of checks received. Research time for adjustments is unnecessary, collection expenses are reduced and the processing cycle is shortened from three weeks to a few days. By having access to the check information more quickly, customer services are enhanced. Consumer questions about their account balance and recent transactions can be answered with surety. Although it enables the banking industry to realize savings in many areas, Check 21 does not mandated reduced fees charged to the consumer. Banks have the option of processing checks electronically, but they will not refuse paper checks when presented. Increased imaging clarity, widespread use of the Internet and changes in banking regulations enabled financial institutions to keep up with the rest of their business needs. Cash flows more steadily and there are fewer defaults on payments due to late receipt. For more information please contact us at 800-720-3323 or at

Posted in ACH, Checks, Uncategorized on Feb 04, 2010