I predict that by 2017 that businesses will only issue printed checks when an unexpected situation arises that prompts the company to issue a manual check. A small supply of check stock will be on-hand for these one-offs. For regular payables “check runs”, e-payments will be the norm for businesses of all sizes and industries.
Between 2009 and 2012, US statistics show that check clearance volumes dropped an average of 9.2% each year over the 3 year period, and continues to fall at a significant rate. This statistic includes personal and business checks. A dozen years ago, banks used to transport paper checks via aircraft to central clearing centers. The cost and inefficiency led to the Check 21 Act, which allowed banks to use electronic images of checks rather than the actual paper checks. With advancements in payment technologies that enable services like wire transfer, debit payments, PayPal and Bitcoin, electronic payment has now become ubiquitous.
Most major banks and credit unions in North America offer mobile apps that allow consumers to deposit checks by simply taking a picture of the check.
Small businesses that are comfortable with printed checks, and unfamiliar with the new technology for payments, are also grappling with the escalating cost of paper check stock and the rising cost for clearing printed checks through their bank. This is quickly forcing small business owners to reconsider employing e-payments over checks.
In 2015, the paper check is still alive, but in a much reduced capacity than it was a decade ago. Ten years from now, a paper check will go the way of the rotary phone. Technology will continue to add convenience and efficiency to business processes such as payments.