PLANO, Texas (12/27/07)--Credit unions squeezed by increased expenses related to processing paper checks are discovering the cost-saving efficiencies of remote deposit services, says Southwest Corporate FCU. "This past year has seen an explosion of adoption (of the services)," said Jody Beck, senior vice president of operations at the corporate (eFACTS Dec. 26). Beck predicted that 2008 would be even busier. Southwest Corporate, one of the nation's largest payment services providers, said its statistics help illustrate a nationwide trend. In November 2006, roughly 134 credit unions, representing 548 branches, had signed up for the corporate's remote deposit service. A year later, the number has grown to 331 credit unions, with 1,177 branches in 27 states. Transactions also increased to more than five million in November 2007 from 2.5 million in November 2006. Beck, noting the service had doubled during the past year, put the numbers into context: "this is a service that didn't even exist three to four years ago." Credit unions using the remote deposit service scan the checks in batches and send the check images to Southwest Corporate, which completes the process. The credit unions no longer spend time and money encoding checks. The checks are cleared and the image is archived for online member access. Beck outlined the advantages of capturing deposit actions at the point of entry: faster identification of fraudulent activity and customer deposit errors, a reduction of lost checks during transport, and no microfilming needed. In 2006, more than two-thirds of all noncash payments in the U.S. were made electronically, according to the Federal Reserve's 2007 study of noncash payments. About 19 billion more electronic payments were made in 2006 than in 2003. The number of checks during that period fell by seven billion. With about 33 billion checks written in 2006 in the U.S., check processing will remain important. However, said Beck, the way the checks are processed will continue to change. "In this case, change is good," she said. "Lots of credit unions are going to save lots of money by processing checks electronically."