Transaction print, or the printing of statements that either require a response (such as a bill payment) or benefit from serving as a record (such as an investment statement) has been integral to the financial well-being of both consumers and businesses for decades. Short-term the COVID-pandemic has increased the demand for transaction statements, as business scrambled to provide their customers with more information about options available to them. As a result, there has been a trend towards statements getting longer, with greater use of color to draw customers attention to options designed to reduce customer calls to call centers, as those call centers were staffed with fewer office workers. Sadly, overdue payment notices have also increased, further increasing demand for transaction statements.
However, many financial providers, especially large ones, have pushed more aggressively during COVID to move customers to electronic communication. This has left transaction statement providers scrambling to figure out how to plan for their operations ahead, with a focus on internal cost reduction. While the large transaction statement providers have been investing in high-speed inkjet technology for years in order to gain greater efficiencies, many mid-size and smaller transaction statement providers have been unable to afford the $1M+ investments in high-speed inkjet technology, and remain with aging fleets of (monochrome cut-sheet) toner production printers.
Those aging toner production printers are becoming more service-intensive, and frankly less cost competitive. Furthermore, COVID has exposed the requirement for color on statements to enhance customer communication and reduce call center support. The good news is that production inkjet technology has evolved to address both these concerns. Production continuous feed inkjet technology has been available from manufacturers like Pitney Bowes (now BlueCrest), Canon/Oce, Ricoh, and Xerox since 2008. Inkjet’s share of pages printed has grown steadily since that time, now accounting for more than half of all transaction pages printed.
The 2021 introduction of affordable production cut-sheet color inkjet printers is about to extend the reach of inkjet printing technology in transaction printing even further. Products like BlueCrest’s EvoluJet are able to replace and consolidate upwards of three or more legacy mono cut-sheet toner devices with a single cut-sheet inkjet press, lowering cost by reducing the number of service contracts and the number of operators required to handle paper loading, while at the same time providing the color printing edge that is now required to remain competitive and meet financial providers requirements. The key to future success in the transaction statement market is the ability to produce color statements using inkjet technology at similar cost to monochrome toner statements. The ability to eliminate pre-printed color offset shells reduces workflow complexity and waste, and reduces the need for outsourcing of the offset shells, keeping more revenue in-house. Color capability also opens the door to leveraging transaction providers’ securely managed data for personalized offers, extending their core data management skills into highly relevant direct mail applications. These are exciting times for transaction providers, with affordable production color inkjet printing technology opening up more opportunities than ever before.