Stop Paying with Checks!

When shopping, I hate standing behind someone that writes a check. "How much was that? What's the date? Should I write my license number on it?" What a giant time sink. Clearly the person has a checking account, so why can't she get a debit card? Swipe, PIN, done. -- its just that fast. Personally, I aways use credit cards because I like the points and the 25 day grace period. Plastic is so convienent that I have no issue paying an annual fee.

The UK Payments Industry recently released their numbers for retail payments, and the trend to use debit cards is increasing. For 2008, 43% was debit, 32% was cash, 23% was credit and checks were down 4% to 3% of the total. Yeah, kill those checks!


I love the fact that Apple is geared to accept plastic payments. Anything else and you're moved to the lonely, hidden cash register behind the Geek Bar. Apple's EZPay is very unique for the retail industry, but I hope it defines a trend. The music video below is a bit over the top, but the point is clear. Use plastic. Please.


Most UK supermarket chains and lots of other UK retailers no longer accept cheques (I am English :-) ) so cash or plastic it has to be. Before they stopped taking cheques, cheques had to be guaranteed using a bank card... which was also a debit card - so what was the point?

A cheque book lasts me about 4 years

Posted by Pete Scott on May 03, 2009 at 01:43 PM PDT #

I never ever used a check. I have no check book and I could bet no store would accept this.

I am Swiss !

Posted by Laurent Schneider on May 03, 2009 at 04:49 PM PDT #

hi good morning,
oracle video is aviable,please give site name .

With Regards

Posted by vissu on May 03, 2009 at 05:10 PM PDT #

Sounds like the Europeans are further along than us Americans. I'm not surprised.

Posted by David on May 04, 2009 at 03:37 AM PDT #

I received a few checks from America. For instance VAT pay back for the notebook or an Oracle User Group fee.

Do you never use wire money transfer over there?

Why in the hell do you prefer sending check than giving me cash when I was there? *annoying*

Posted by Laurent Schneider on May 04, 2009 at 11:38 PM PDT #

You touch on 2 issues here David, checks and mobile POS.

You're right about checks, in most other countries apart from the USA they are a dying business. Since the introduction of EMV (Chip & PIN), checks have started to be declined at most major retailers. All major grocery chains that we work with don't accept checks any more. Checks are incredibly expensive for banks to process and very open to fraud. I wonder why there is such a strong culture in North America for the use of checks?

Regarding mobile POS, you're 100% right. The experience in Apple is an amazing one for customers. We're starting to see a huge interest for this type of service in other retailers, taking service to the customers. I would expect to see a good percentage of global retailers look at mobile POS as the next key customer facing experience by the end of 2010.

Posted by Cameron Olsen on May 24, 2009 at 01:40 AM PDT #

Before UK retailers effectively banned cheques (which happened late 2007-early 2008), many large retailers offered the facility to insert the cheque in the receipt printer (which often had a document insert point for the purpose) and the till would print amount, date etc, and transaction details on the cheque. Sometimes the guarantee card details were also printed*. And then all the customer had to do was to sign the cheque.

(*The process for G'tee card was that the card number--which was different to account number--was to be written on the back of the cheque to prove that the card had been physically inspected. In these days of PCIDSS that would probably need to stop. This process is still in place but now not done very often)

The reason why people used cheques even with the extra hassle of the guarantee card (which was valid for £50 or £100) was that the cheque would be applied to their account their account for 3-5 days (retailer processing plus mandatory bank 3 day clearance cycle), great for those living from month to month at the end of the month. Debit cards (signature or Chip & PIN) would draw the money instantly (or at least pre-auth instantly and settle that night or next day)

And there was quite a lot of resistance to EMV Chip and Pin when it was first introduced from older people not wanting to change and having trouble using the tech/remembering their PIN.

After some protests, banks started offering the option of Chip & Signature cards for customers who were disabled and could not "PIN", or valued customers who were "hold outs". This is done on paper (signature terminals are very rare in UK, and I think also quite rare in Europe), so there is still a paper chase for chargebacks on Chip & Signature, and also on non-EMV cards from abroad used in the UK (which default to signature too).

To help the process of reducing cheques the following things have happened:

It's become easier for small businesses to get a merchant account and a bank terminal.

Online and telephone banking has taken off, so lots of people now pay bills by bank transfer (or direct debit--and the banks will reverse/dispute any direct debit on demand which gives people confidence to use it)

And (finally--many years after Sweden who led this) we now have faster bank tranfers--up to £5000 now can be moved within 4 hours, much better than trusting the cheque to the post!

Posted by Miles Thomas on June 09, 2009 at 06:03 PM PDT #

I am a cashier at Target and I am truly amazed that anyone complains about check writers.

Actually, many cash payers take longer because they have to rummage through their wallets/purses for the proper amount of cash.

Debit card users who have trouble remembering their pin numbers also can take at least as long as check writers. So do those who have to cobble multiple credit/debit cards together to find enough remaining balance/credit to pay the bill.

I am simply used to payment taking awhile and everyone else should be too.

Posted by guest on December 11, 2012 at 10:17 AM PST #

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