Checks: Who Still Uses Them and Why?

Amy Donaghue

By: Karen Sylvester, AAP, APRP, CAMS, CRCM, NCP, Senior Director, Compliance Education

“Checks are going away!” This phrase has been said throughout my many years in the financial industry, but check usage continues.

When discussing other payment systems, we often talk about how those systems are thriving and their transaction volume continues to grow. However, we are not seeing that growth within the check payment space. With headlines and hot topics all about faster payments, why hasn’t the check been replaced by faster payments…. or anything faster for that matter?

All of this leads to my next question – who is still using checks and why?

Generational Usage

Some generational users started off writing checks, have always written checks and will always write checks. They took a while to get used to the fact that their check could be converted to an ACH, but they still like to write checks. This group is also more likely to keep a check register versus checking their online banking every day (or every few hours) to see how much money they have left.

Business Clients

Business clients who write checks are an opportunity group. Though they may be set in their ways to make and receive payments, they could be the next pot of gold with your Treasury Management/Services department. The opportunity to educate them on other ways to make payments that may give them usage of funds more quickly could be the key to your next ACH Origination client!


We can’t talk about checks without talking about our final group – the fraudsters! Check fraud has been happening since check’s inception, and we would have thought the fraudsters would have moved on to something more exciting but in all reality, they did move on and now they’re running full circle again and have moved back into check fraud. Why you may ask? Well, check fraud is easy! Considering fraudsters can order check stock, print it up and get an unsuspecting person to deposit or cash the items, this may be the easiest job we’ve never had!

But, what happens when the fraudster infringes on one of your clients? It is important that financial institutions act quickly and appropriately to lessen losses when it comes to check fraud. When you’re the Bank of First Deposit, you warrant that the check is not altered, and the endorsement is legitimate. When you’re the Paying Bank, you are ultimately responsible for knowing whether your account holder wrote the check. With today’s increase in automation, these once-crucial verification tasks have been pushed to the side. It is time to review your organization’s responsibility when it comes to checks and check fraud.

Don’t hate the old-school check, embrace the opportunity to save your institution from the old-school form of fraud by acting in a timely diligent manner.

Build a Solid Check Foundation!

Join us virtually for this year’s final offering of Check Day Camp to build a solid payments foundation that will support you throughout your career as a payments professional (or invite your newest team members). Our accredited trainers will teach you the ropes and pass down traditions including the history of the check network, key check terms and concepts, check network participant roles and responsibilities and resources to assist with check inquiries and disputes. Click here to learn more or register now!