ING Direct is famous for being truly digital — not having brick-and-mortar stores and offering paperless accounts. However, it seems it has succumbed to its customers' needs and is offering the option for ING account holders to use paper checks. Although paper-check payments are slowly being phased out as banking becomes more digital, checks still make up less than 25 percent of non-cash payments (which still means billions of checks are being used), according to a Federal Reserve study.
Personally, I like this move as there are a number of payments I have recently made that still require a traditional paper check. For example, there are some small businesses and less tech-savvy institutions that still only take checks. ING Direct's previous check feature would only send a paper check after you requested one, and it definitely slowed down the process. Sometimes you need to issue a check on the spot, so it's definitely handy to have a checkbook around. This missing feature from ING Direct has caused customers to rely on other checking accounts in order to distribute checks, but with the new change, customers can slowly completely rely on ING Direct as their sole form of banking.
Consumers can now buy a book of 50 checks for $5 on its website, which has an extra security feature — once you receive your checkbook, you have to log into your ING Direct account to activate it, which is similar to when you receive a new debit card. Consumerism Commentary talks about another security measure ING is taking:
Checks are interesting. Technically, any piece of paper that includes your signature and an amount qualifies as a check. If the bank of first deposit can determine the bank that holds the account and that bank can determine the correct bank account of the individual who owns the check, the check can be processed. You can print checks at home or write them on a bar napkin. You might get the evil eye from a bank teller, but if there’s enough identifying information, the check can be processed. You don’t even need to know the bank’s routing number.
That won’t be the case with ING Direct‘s checks, because this bank will only process transactions that have the right extra digits in the check number, which I would guess is a check sum that verifies the check number with the account number, using some sort of algorithm like the three- or four-digit verification code now popular on credit cards.
And that's not all. There is more good news in store for ING users as PT Money reported that customers will soon be able to make digital deposits. You will soon be able to use your phone or scanner to deposit checks!