IMAGING SEEN AS KEY STEP TO ELIMINATING PAPER CHECKS

ATLANTA -- Image technology, such as electronic check conversion, may be the key to easing supermarket customers from their deeply ingrained habit of using paper checks, said Rich Oliver, senior vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.Oliver, who has national responsibility for the Fed's retail payments efforts, was the keynote speaker at the Retail Electronic Payment Systems Conference of

ATLANTA -- Image technology, such as electronic check conversion, may be the key to easing supermarket customers from their deeply ingrained habit of using paper checks, said Rich Oliver, senior vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Oliver, who has national responsibility for the Fed's retail payments efforts, was the keynote speaker at the Retail Electronic Payment Systems Conference of the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, D.C., last month.

With such systems, retailers capture an electronic image of the check and either return it immediately to the customer or keep it. The check is truncated, or voided, and the retailer processes the check based on the information on the image, which usually results in quicker payment, slower than a debit transaction, but faster than the paper check.

"Image technology may be the secret to eliminating the check as the most popular device used by consumers today in conducting transactions," he said. "We think one of the reasons the check still is prominent in our society is because of the back-end record-keeping capability of the check. The desire of the consumer still is to be able to touch and feel that piece of paper they wrote and reconcile it to their accounts."

Gradually, Oliver said, banks are implementing services that complement image technology.