Five years ago, the Bankers Roundtable (now the Financial Services Roundtable) issued a clarion call to bankers to defend against assaults of nonbanks on the industry's payments-system stronghold. That call to arms was as timely as it was urgent.

At the time, the Internet was becoming part of the mainstream vernacular, along with concepts like electronic bill payment and on-line financial services, and nonbanks were eager to help satisfy the emerging demand. A landmark report on the future of the payments system made it clear that bankers needed to lead the transition to electronics if they wanted to retain control of the payments system.

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