More check-image processors are likely to join forces with card processors, experts said after Heartland Payment Systems Inc. announced a "bank-neutral remote deposit" service for merchants.

"The banks don't have enough feet on the street to go after all the opportunities," which is creating an opportunity for the processors, said Rahn Rampton, a spokesman for Zions Bancorp.'s NetDeposit imaging unit. He said his company is already setting up partnerships with several independent sales organizations that offer payment card acquiring service to merchants.

Check imaging presents a new business opportunity for the card processors, Mr. Rampton said.

"ISOs were limited to the retail level," he said. "Now they can go up the elevator" to offer check-imaging services to business professionals who may take in lots of check payments but in many cases do not accept cards, such as lawyers, doctors, and accountants.

John Leekley, the founder and chief executive of RemoteDepositCapture LLC, a market watcher based in Atlanta, said banks have not ignored small business, but "they're definitely going to start with the largest opportunity first."