Working with ICL File Variations

The X9.37-2003 DSTU standard was developed to address a broad group of users who need to send check images and check image data electronically, accurately and efficiently. Unfortunately, the DSTU did not address some important issues. Consequently, there have appeared on the market many variations on the standard. Some of these variations fall within the scope of the standard and some do not. But nonetheless, your organization may receive or send an X9.37 file that is substantially different than what you or your exchange partners were expecting.

Some of the uses for an X9.37 file, aka an Image Cash Letter (ICL) file, are:

  • Participate in the services offered by the Federal Reserve Board, FRB, for Check 21
  • Send check images and data information from Remote-Deposit sites and kiosks
  • Create a file to produce a valid Image Replacement Document (IRD), Canadian Replacement Document (CRD), or substitute check
  • Send intra-bank information from regional or international locations
  • Send information to exchange services such as Viewpointe or SVPCO
  • Send check images and data to another bank
  • Use within financial software. Some software companies have their own proprietary versions of the standard format to use in their financial software applications.

The specific requirements for each of these uses may have published guidelines so the content of these files can be easily and accurately read. The FRB has a 45 page, “Image Cash Letter Customer Documentation” guideline. The various exchanges have their requirements and guideline documents. Printing IRDs and CRDs are covered inder standards developed by the X9 committee and Canadian Payments Association, respectively.  Each of these is slightly different, and slightly in computer file formats can mean that a file can or cannot be read by a particular type of software.

Deposit Tickets

Officially within X9.37-2003 DSTU there is no provision for deposit slips. This issue will be addressed in the new, yet to be finalized X9.100-180 proposed standard. But many X9.37 files have included deposit slip information. It serves a need. Some have inserted a new record number, designated 61. Others have used other records within the standard for this purpose.

There are a number of ways you can handle deposit slips within X9.37 files. Some organizations use a non-valid ABA routing number. When this non-valid ABA number is recognized by All My Papers IRD/CRD printing software, it knows it is not a check item and will not print it as an IRD with the legend, “This is a legal….”

Some X9.37 files have a Record 61. There are many different versions of Record 61. There will be a Record 61 in the new X9.100-180. It appears that some software companies have developed their Record 61 based on a preliminary, non-released version of the new proposed standard and put them into their current ICL files.

A third way to deal with deposit ticket information is to include a specific type of transaction code. This is more rare, but still another variation.

Since deposit slips were not accounted for in the X9.37 standard, including them will affect the control records for bundles and cash letters. A deposit slip could “double” the dollar amount in the control records. Since control records are supposed to be the mechanism to ensure dollar amount totals and item totals, this can seriously affect one of the fundamental functions of a standard file format for transmitting accurate information. The All My Papers software ensures that your totals are accurate.


ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is the most common format for text files in computers and on the Internet.

Mainframe computers and the FRB use a different standard called EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. It is an 8-bit alphanumeric coded character set for formatting text. Our software can convert from one format to another.

Image File Formats

Check images may be scanned and saved in a variety of image formats and compression methods. Bitonal (black and white) is one, Grayscale is another, and a third is Color. Within each of these formats are variations as well. Bitonal images are often stored in TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) format. But TIFF has itself many variations. Some graphical software companies estimate that there are more than 50 variations on the TIFF format.

Types of X9.37 Files

There are Forward X9.37 files for forward presentment of checks, and Return X9.37 files for returned check items. Returns may be created for various reasons:

  • Insufficient Funds
  • Uncollected Funds
  • Lack of Endorsement
  • Can’t find account number
  • Bad Signature
  • Not readable
  • Forgery

Universal Conversion Tools

All My Papers software is used by many software companies, financial institutions, and remote deposit capture vendors. Our goal is to create tools that will allow you to work, cope, and deal with the myriad of variations for Image Cash Letters, ICLs.

Our software will:

  • Create Forward X9.37 files
  • Create Return X9.37 files (one of three vendors approved by the FRB)
  • View and analyze X9.37 files
  • Edit and delete items within X9.37 files at the bundle, item, or field value level
  • Print valid IRDs and CRDs from X9.37 files on standard laser duplex printers
  • Validate conformance to the FRB guidelines for an X9.37 file
  • Convert from one format to another for Record 61 or EBCDIC to ASCII

Contact All My Papers
Contact All My Papers to automate check Image Cash Letter (ICL) file processing.