Canadian Imperial Buys A Check Statement System

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is installing an image system to provide abbreviated statements for checking customers.

The bank is the first in Canada and among the first in North America to install the system. The software from Cincinnati Bell Information Systems Inc. and check processing equipment from Dallas-based BancTec Inc. capture and store images of checks and later match them with demand deposit account information.

Miniature laser-printed copies of checks will be enclosed with customers' monthly statements.

Other Entrants

A few U.S. banks, including Central Fidelity Bank, Richmond, Va., and First Interstate Bank of Washington, now offer image-based statements. Several others are expected to do so next year.

One bank, First Chicago Corp., recently switched vendors for an image statement system, sources say. First Chicago had been working with International Business Machines Corp. but will instead install a Cincinnati Bell/BancTec system because IBM's cannot yet handle large volumes of check images, the sources said.

Canadian Imperial invested $5 million in its system. Bank officials said the statements will be popular with customers, provide a competitive advantage, and cut postage costs by $50,000 a year.

The officials also said that an image statement system is a low-cost, low-risk way to begin implementing image technology.

The bank will install a full-blown image system only when the potential for "significant savings" has been demonstrated, said Yoursi Rasmi, Canadian Imperial's marketing manager.

The new statements, which the bank calls Double Cheque, will cost $2 a month, 50 cents less than regular statements. The bank expects 30% of it 1.2 million checking account customers to sign up for the service within the first two years. Canadian Imperial has been testing the system with employees for a month.

Competitors Unimpressed

Mr. Rasmi said the high-tech statement service will enhance the bank's image among customers and force other Canadian banks to offer the service to compete.

But some bankers in Canada, particularly those who have begun investing in full-blown image systems, said they do not feel pressured to move faster into image statements.

"The real savings . . . come from the systems that handle the proof-of-deposit and encoding functions," said a systems executive at a large Toronto-based bank who asked not to be named. "The savings from image statements are not significant. We will do image statements after we have the full-blown system up and running."

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