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Chris Musto
Chris Musto
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Revisiting Online Document Delivery’s Inexorable Rise

Document imaging and statement suppression have become priorities for the online banking services of Wells Fargo, Key Bank, Chase, and others.

Our ongoing Scorecard research -- complemented by recent vendor interviews -- reveals that document imaging is a primary initiative among banks' online delivery priorities. Signs are also appearing that the other shoe, paper suppression, is finally dropping.

Here's Gomez's assessment of recent developments:

Wells Fargo online statement initiative requires paper suppression

In January, Wells Fargo made online statement delivery in PDF form available for consumer deposit accounts. Citibank, which was the first top-ten retail bank to launch online delivery of deposit statements, also uses PDF. While one vendor we spoke with anticipates that large banks will favor interactive HTML versions of statements rather than PDF copies, Gomez sees the Wells Fargo approach as confirmation of a trend in which many banks are considering static, PDF statements as uniquely valuable because of their archival qualities.

As with Key Bank's September 2002 launch of online statement delivery, Wells Fargo requires most account holders to suppress paper delivery to receive online copies of their statements. While it is clear that many banks appreciate that online statement delivery allows for paper suppression, traditional banks have so far tended to launch online statements without a paper-suppression requirement. Wells Fargo becomes the largest bank to buck that trend and its success may accelerate the inevitable arrival of a widespread push to suppress paper delivery of account statements.

Chase helps check imaging maintain a lead over statement delivery at Scorecard banks

Following Wells Fargo's introduction of online statements, Chase launched online check imaging in Chase Online, a move that helps maintain the lead online check imaging enjoys over online statement delivery in the number of Scorecard banks offering the service.

Chase's consumer banking customers can click on a "view check" link on the appropriate line of the transaction history. The customer can view the front and back of the check (which will appear in a pop-up window), with the ability to zoom in on the image. Buttons in the new window prompt the customer to save or print the image. If Chase offered static or interactive statement images, it would make sense to offer some kind of link from the statement image as well.

Vendors are accommodating the document imaging movement

Discussions with four of the largest providers of online retail banking technology, Corillian, Digital Insight, S1 and Online Resources, show these vendors feel pressure from banks for online document delivery. The high level of this demand stands in stark contrast to bank interest in aggregation, bank/brokerage integration, integration of third-party financial services and bill presentment.

In response, these vendors, for the most part, now accommodate online check and statement delivery. The exceptions are notable; for instance, S1 is rolling out an interactive complement to its support for static statements in a release due out later this year, while Online Resources is about to go live with check imaging (but is still developing statement delivery).

The uptick in demand requires that these vendors consider working with a myriad of document archive vendors. There are so many small document archive vendors that Digital Insight has insisted, successfully, that they should pay Digital Insight to certify them. But with document delivery implementation and maintenance an oasis of revenue opportunity, online banking vendors report that they are quite happy to work with any number of image formats. Differences do arise, however, in vendors' willingness to link to a statement archive rather than insisting that their own platform mediate the image request and display the document.

Meanwhile, some online banking vendors are in coopetition with vendors of online statement delivery and customer self-service, notably CheckFree and eDocs. Banks seeking aid in developing online statement delivery but not aligned with an online banking vendor may find themselves working with one of these specialists, or they may find themselves partnering with both the specialist and a holistic online banking vendor.

Chris Musto is a vice president of research at Gomez, Inc., a Waltham, MA Internet channel benchmarking firm. He can be reached at [email protected]

This article originally appeared in Bank Systems & Technology eNEWS,a weekly e-mail newsletter. To order a free subscription, click here:

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