Bank statements had historically been printed on one or several pieces of paper and either mailed directly to the account holder, or kept at the financial institution's local branch for pick-up. In recent years there has been a shift towards paperless, electronic statements, and most financial institutions offer direct download into account holders accounting software.
Some ATMs offer the possibility of printing, at any time, a condensed version of a bank statement, commonly called a transaction history, or a transaction history may be viewed on the financial institution's online banking software or available via telephone banking. Transaction history may also be shared with other financial institutions when the account holder gives permission through open banking to provide services such as account aggregation.
Historically, bank statements were paper statements produced monthly, quarterly or even annually. Since the introduction of computers in banks in the 1960s, bank statements have generally been produced monthly. Bank statements for accounts with small transaction volumes, such as investments or savings accounts, are usually produced less frequently. Depending on the financial institution, bank statements may also include certain features such as the cancelled cheques (or their images) that cleared through the account during the statement period. These statements were posted to customers home address.
Starting in the late 1990s, banks started to encourage customer to switch to electronic statements. This saved significant cost and resources as there was no longer a need to print and mail statements. The process would require customer consent which was typically obtained through online banking system as there were legal requirements in many countries to produce statements on paper when requested. Some countries such as Japan never had a tradition of mailing statements, individual account holders are expected to keep track of deposits, withdrawals, and balances using their own passbooks at Automated Teller Machines.
With the wider access to the Internet and online banking starting in the late 1990s, bank statements (also known as electronic statements or e-statements) could be viewed online, and downloaded or printed by the customer. To reduce the cost of postage and the generation of paper bank statements, some financial institutions encourage their customers to receive bank statements electronically, for example by charging a fee for paper statements. This may be as attachments to emails or, as a security measure, as a reminder that a new statement is available on the financial institution's website. Whether such statements are transmitted as attachments or from the website, they are commonly generated in PDF format, to reduce the ability of the recipient to electronically alter the statement.
Due to identity theft concerns, an electronic statement may not be seen as a dangerous alternative against physical theft as it does not contain tangible personal information, and does not require extra safety measures of disposal such as shredding. However, an electronic statement can be easier to obtain than a physical one through computer fraud, data interception and/or theft of storage media.
Starting in 2015 developments such as open banking made it easier for third parties to access bank transaction data and introduced standard API and security models.
In the United Kingdom, all banks and building societies are required by law to provide a paper bank statement to customers. However, this does not apply in cases where the customer has a passbook, is a customer of an online only bank or has elected not to receive paper statements.
- Royal Bank of Canada - History
- Peachey, Kevin (2014-02-12). "More cuts for paper bank statements". Retrieved 2019-04-26.
- FCA Handbook, BCOBS 4.2 Statements of account Retrieved 26-4-18 https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/BCOBS/4/2.html
- "Does my bank/credit union have to send me a monthly statement for my checking account?". Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 2018-03-16. Retrieved 2019-04-26.