It's called the Check Clearing Act of the 21st Century or Check 21 for short. It's the government's effort to give banks the power to process your check faster and more efficiently. Starting on October 28, 2004, banks will have the legal authority to electronically make an image of your check, and send it through the channels to faster clear the money from your account. It could move just as fast as a debit card.
The October 28 date is just the date banks are allowed to begin the process. Ask your bank when it plans to begin using Check 21.
For more information on the new technology, log on to www.federalreserve.gov.