Top Innovators

David Walker: Driving Consensus

ECCHO's David Walker brought together sometimes-antagonists in order to win the passage of the pivotal Check 21 Act. But he didn't do it alone.

Sometimes innovation is the proverbial bolt-of-lightning inspiration that strikes one fervent individual. But sometimes innovation is both evolutionary and collaborative. Such was the case with the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, or Check 21, which was signed into law in 2003. But while the law (which allows banks to truncate paper checks and replace them with substitute digital check images) went into effect in 2004, it was decades in the making. Among the individuals who were committed to overcoming the barriers that had stalled industrywide adoption of check truncation, one of the most persistent and persuasive was David Walker, president and CEO of Dallas-based Electronic Check Clearing House Organization.

ECCHO had worked with the Federal Reserve Bank for years to find ways to make the checking system more efficient, recalls Walker, who joined the check clearinghouse in 1989. And late in 2001 the Fed proposed the Check 21 bill. "For the first and only time in their history, they developed and proposed a new statute for Congress to consider," Walker relates.