Question of the Day: Why Can't We Give Up Writing Checks?
For those educators out there still teaching students how to write checks, you have been vindicated!
In an era of smartphones, online banking, and Venmo transfers, the U.S. still can’t seem to wean itself off paper checks. In most countries, they’ve gone the way of the fax machine and the rotary telephone. But their demise isn’t coming to America any time soon.
Americans still reach for their checkbooks more than anybody else. In 2015, they each made 38 check transactions, on average, according to data from the Bank of International Settlements, the coordinating body for the world’s central banks.
Here's a chart shows the sharp drop in check writing worldwide but in this category we are still #1:
- Additional Resource: Here's an Marketplace audio interview with the reporter (duration of 3:42)
Questions for your students:
- Have you ever written a check? Seen your parents write a check? For what purpose?
- What are the reasons that the article gives for our continued use of checks?
- How have other countries been able to do away with checks?
- How much have checks used per capita in the U.S. declined since 2000 (in percentage terms)?
- Do you think you will see the elimination of paper checks in your lifetime?
Be sure to check out the NGPF Project: Payment Decisions in which students will select the best form of payment for various transactions.
About the Author
Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.
To get access to NGPF answer keys, assessments, and teacher-only resources: create a FREE Teacher Account