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Michael Ellison
Michael Ellison
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Online Statement Centers: Kicking the Paper Habit

A recent Bank Monitor report looked at online statements, the most important aspect of the paperless experience, and found that 85% of firms we reviewed now offer online statements that replicate their paper siblings.

Every bank these days seems to hope that its clients will move away from paper statements to online-only account management. After all, such a change by even a fraction of a firm's account holders saves money in terms of printing and postage costs. In order for clients to play their part and agree to suppress the paper statements that they have always known, however, they need to know they will still be able to find the same information online. A recent Bank Monitor report looked at online statements, the most important aspect of the paperless experience, and found that 85% of firms we reviewed now offer online statements that replicate their paper siblings.This development is excellent for both clients and firms, as offering online statements that mirror paper statements is an important feature in the continued promotion - and perhaps, increased adoption - of paper suppression. The option of going paperless, while obviously providing financial benefit to firms that no longer need to send paper statements, also benefits clients by reducing paper clutter, so long as they have an easy way to view and save their monthly account reports.

The overwhelming majority of online statements are now offered as true-to-form PDFs that mimic the look and information of paper statements. With this format, clients who like having a hard copy version of their statement can easily save or print it. Where banks start differing in their application of online statement capabilities is in statement availability. Half of the firms in this report make Online Statements available to all users - B of A, Chase, Citibank, Citizens, Fifth Third, First National and National City - while the remainder limit statement access to those clients who have already suppressed their paper statements. Though limiting access can seem like an enticement for account holders to switch to paperless statements, it can also prevent customers from trying paperless statements at all.

To aid in the paperless statement process, every firm except ING Direct now allows clients to both suppress and restart their paper statement delivery online. At ING, clients are automatically enrolled in paperless statements, and can only begin receiving hard copy account records if they send a written request to the firm. Additionally, 86% of firms allow clients to request past statement copies online. Almost all banks impose a fee for these copies, with three exceptions. Citibank and Wells Fargo offer next-day digital uploads of past statements fee free, while Bank of America does one better and provides paper statement copies at no charge.

While BofA was the clear leader here, several other firms perform well overall including Chase, Citibank, and Citizens Bank. Key recommendations we made in the report include:

• Make online statements available to all account holders • Increase the length of the statement archive to at least 24 months • Facilitate private site statement requests and delivery of bank statement copies • Offer external incentives for paperless statementsA recent Bank Monitor report looked at online statements, the most important aspect of the paperless experience, and found that 85% of firms we reviewed now offer online statements that replicate their paper siblings.

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