Washington Post: The Check’s Last Writes

Jackie Spinner reports on the growth in electronic payments.

Checks still account for nearly 60 percent of all retail non-cash payments, according to Federal Reserve data. By comparison, electronic payments made up 7.9 percent of the pie in 2000.

The Fed, which actually does not process the majority of checks written, now believes that check writing has peaked, for real. In an August 2002 report, the Fed said it appears that the number of checks written began to decline sometime in the mid-1990s after a high of 49.5 billion in 1995.

A key point: Electronic payments are growing, at a rate of 18 percent from 1979 to 2000, compared with a growth rate of 1.2 percent for checks in the same period.

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