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The Future of the Check

Check usage in the US has been declining for many years, but thus far, predictions about the future have been less than reliable. Digital Check recently released a report titled "The Disappearing Check – How Long until the End?".

The report discusses factors that contribute to the decline, takes a mathematical approach to making realistic projections, and concludes that by 2020 checks will still be around in significant numbers. The report states:

  • Contrary to popular belief, check usage is not declining at an accelerating rate. For about a decade, checks have been declining at a linear rate of approximately 2 billion/year.
  • Credit Cards and mobile payments are not cannibalizing checks. In reality, check payments have migrated to ACH and Debit Cards, both of which withdraw funds from a checking or savings account, just like a check does.
  • B2B payments are not the main reason why the paper check is still alive. C2B payments are still the largest category by far, at almost double anything else.
  • The #1 reason for anyone to write a check today remains the mailed-in bill payment.
  • Although C2B checks are declining, the rate is actually slowing.
  • Percentage fees and lack-of-access are two issues preventing newer forms of payment from displacing the check in its stronghold
  • The latest payment disruptors, mobile wallets and EMV cards, will have minimal impact on check usage because they focus on POS, where checks have already disappeared.

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