It's been a long time coming, but electronic lien and title documents, known as ELT, have replaced paper titles for more than half of registrations nationwide. And more auto lenders and state motor vehicle departments are switching from paper records all the time.
Electronic titles mean that customers and lenders -- as well as dealerships -- can clear the "paperwork" faster on both new- and used-car transactions by creating and sending documents online instead of using the mail or waiting in line at state motor vehicle departments to transfer the title.
"The market is moving very, very quickly," away from paper records, said VINtek Chairman Harvey Lamm.
VINtek, a Philadelphia company, provides ELT programs for auto lenders and is signed up as a vendor with DMVs in several states that use electronic titles. Lamm may be better known as a co-founder and former chairman of Subaru of America Inc., based outside Philadelphia in Cherry Hill, N.J.
"The number of states that are mandating it (electronic documents) is growing by leaps and bounds. It seems like it's become this inevitable wave," said Tim Snyder, a developer for Decision Dynamics Inc., Lexington, S.C.
He said Pennsylvania, for instance, an early adopter for ELTs, made them mandatory last year. Arizona is making them mandatory at the end of May, Snyder said.
"Not only is it more convenient, but also in past, electronic made everybody nervous. 'If I've got it on paper it's real.' But the way we store data now there's an electronic trail and it's more reliable than paper titles," he said.