Technological advancements in online banking are close to cutting off the need for paper checks permanently. At the same time, plenty of consumers still rely on the written vouchers for their payments.
It may be that the industry has to wait for the next generation to take its place in the financial mainstream and for older check-writing consumers to fade away. According to a 2014 poll taken by GoBankingRates, no one between the ages of 18 and 24 writes checks anymore. And of the total number of banking customers polled, nearly 38 percent never write checks.
Many are still stuck in the past, however, or are tied to contracts and operational practices that rely on paper checks. And wealthier people have more need for the paper too as every respondent to the poll that earned more than $150,000 a year wrote checks several times a month.
It’s a matter of opportunity as well, since most urbanites pay bills through electronic means, while rural banking remains tied to the check-writing practice.
Online bill paying, direct deposit, automated payment withdrawal, mobile apps and peer-to-peer payment options continue to grow and take over the need for checks, which often are accompanied by the need for postage and slower movement through theU.S. mail. Checks also are more at risk for fraud and use precious natural resources to create and process.
Another phenomena uncovered by the poll is that men are more likely to eschew the old paper check writing habit in favor of online bill-pay tools. Nearly 50 percent of women polled reported writing checks versus 32 percent of men.
ThePewResearchCenterfound that in 2013, 51 percent of American adults banked online, 4 percent more than in 2010. So it’s that slow evolution that will continue to erode the usefulness of check writing. As the flexibility, control, convenience and cost of online banking become more ubiquitous, the paper check eventually will fade into the folders of history.
Eventually, Americans will catch up with the European movement and make check writing obsolete, as the practice decreases by about 8 percent per year in the U.K. MSN predicted that babies born in 2014 may never even know what a paper check is except by visiting a museum.
Will paper checks disappear by 2020 as some predicted in the early 2000s? Not likely, but the trend is moving in that direction – slowly, but surely.