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Banks, let me enumerate the line items in my deposits, or let me deposit at home.

At my bank (Wells Fargo) and some others I have checked, the ATM lets you make a deposit with an envelope. You must key in the total amount being deposited, even if you put several cheques in the envelope. This in turn shows up as just one transaction in my statement, and in my download of my transactions to my computer.

That's not what I want of course. I want to see the different deposits split out individually. The bank certainly splits them out in any event to send each cheque out to the bank that will honour it. Why not have me start the process. It might also assure more accurate addition of the amounts.

Of course, this would take a little more time at the ATM, but a lot less time than what I do now -- put each cheque into a different envelope, and deposit them one at a time. Or at least put the cheques of different classes into different envelopes. Of course, if I planned ahead, I could enter them all into the accounting software before I go to the bank, and in that case need not enter the individual tallies. But you don't always plan like this.

Does any bank's ATM do this?

Of course even better would be to let me make my deposits at home, with my scanner. No, I'm not kidding. More and more, people are happy to get scans of their cancelled cheques back instead of the physical paper ones. The banks are moving to doing it all inter-bank with scans. So let the customer do it too. Of course, the system would scan the OCR digits with cheque number, account number and routing number and not let the same cheque be deposited twice. A live query could be made after you scan with the payer's bank. And you would be required to hold on to the cheques you scan, since any one could be challenged, and if challenged you would have to bring the physical one down to the bank. And perhaps you would have to bring them all down eventually for final records.

And eventually of course I could duplicate paypal, by writing you a cheque and sending you a scan of it which you can then cash -- in which case we should just go to full electronic money.

Naturally all of this would only be for well trusted regular customers, and the money would probably be on invisible hold in your bank account just like ATM deposits often are until the bank looks at them.


In countries that have online banking the whole notion of writing cheques seems to have gone. I last had one about 8 months ago because I was paying a $10k tax bill and I was a little paranoid about what would happen if I got the account numbers wrong.

Almost everyone I know pays electronically, and at least in Australasia any bank that doesn't have "pay anyone" as well as online bill payments (BPay in Australia) would be regarded as primitive. Pay anyone, BTW, is almost literally that - you give someone your BSB (6 digit bank ID) plus account number (however many digits your bank wants) and they can deposit money into your account. Normally processing is overnight, but if you use the same bank (not just branch) it sometimes comes through instantly (varies between banks).

Very handy for paying bills and so on in the middle of the night, and most of the websites are quite usable now - they generally remembre who you've paid in the past and so on, so paying regular bills or friends can be a few clicks. My bank uses a java applet to log you in - you have a 6-12 digit PIN that you select, and mouse it in on a randomised list of buttons (to make keyloggers less useful). I haven't taken it apart to see what goes back to the bank (click coordinates would be brilliant).

Yes, I almost never write cheques. I use electronic payment whenever I can. Unfortunately, other people don't, so I get cheques to deposit, and I want to turn that electronic until the day they stop sending me paper.

Of perhaps 20 people that sent me money in the last 12 months, only one sent an actual paper cheque. I sell photos to all sorts of people - school textbook publishers, bought media, local government, you name it. There was just one council that couldn't cope with the modern world...

Your bank has some fancy new ATMs in San Francisco that you should check out, if you can get there easily.

And it sounds like you should know about this too:

I know the problem. But when it's QuickBooks reconciliation time, I just check off all the deposits, cross my fingers, and wait to see if the difference calculates out to be $0.00. It adds a nice little bit of drama to an otherwise boring process, actually. And it's been spot-on every month this year, to boot!

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