|Remote deposit got its start in 2003 with the passage of the Check 21 Act, which gave scanned images of checks the same legal standing as the original paper documents. The primary reason for the Check 21 Act was to speed up the check clearing process between banks, by allowing them to exchange check images rather than the original physical checks – but another effect was to allow the existence of remote deposit. For more about Check 21, see the link above.
At first, remote deposit was mostly geared toward larger businesses, or those that received especially high numbers of checks every month. That’s because back in 2004-05, the only way to scan checks for remote deposit was to use a high volume check scanner – an expensive proposition that only made sense for the largest businesses. Fortunately, it was not long before lower-priced check scanners (such as the CheXpress CX30, introduced in 2008) became available, opening the door for smaller businesses to take advantage of the technology as well.
The “Second Wave” of Remote Deposit
Most banks at this time still charged a monthly fee of anywhere from $25-$70 to use RDC. The introduction of lower-priced check scanners made it possible for some banks and RDC providers to give the scanners away for free in exchange for a 1 or 2-year commitment – much the same as mobile phone carriers still do. This marked the start of a 2-3 year period where the service was useful for most businesses, but still too costly to be attractive to individuals or to those running home-based microbusinesses.
“Third Wave” and today
Around 2009-10, many banks and other RDC providers began experimenting with lower-cost and pay-as-you go remote deposit services, and began supporting off-the-shelf equipment such as flatbed scanners and all-in-one printers. This brought remote deposit within reach of ever-smaller businesses and some individuals.
More recently, RDC mobile apps have begun using smartphone cameras to capture check images, bypassing PCs and scanners entirely. These apps are generally free or charge a low per-item fee, and therefore appeal to individual customers. However, the manual process and stricter limits on deposits can make them unwieldy for business use.
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