With all this talk about the seemingly endless age of the paper check, it may come as a surprise to some that Google searches for “how to write a check” are soaring these days. Along with the latest data on check use – newsflash: it’s declining – the paper check seems more of a novelty than an everyday habit for today’s younger generation.
According to new research from the Federal Reserve, “the number of checks paid declined more than 50 percent since 2000.” Electronic and card payments, on the other hand, tripled in the same time, The Washington Post reported.
These hard numbers are one way to look at the declining paper check. But another more poignant picture arises when one looks at the popularity of the “how to write a check” search between 2004 and today. The result is fairly steady uptick, according to Google Trends data.
A closer look reveals an increase in these searches around the back-to-school months, presumably when young adults are moving off campus and ready to sign a lease on their apartment. The research shows that the rental industry still relies on paper checks as its primary payment method. Broken down by region, the Northeast shows the most concentrated region of the Google search.
The check may be going strong, but the market seems to slowly but surely be phasing out the tool. Last September, Citi launched a checkless checking account, while for businesses, software service providers are emerging to help companies go paperless and utilize the digital invoice and e-payments.
But other innovators embrace the check. Mitek, for example, is championing the digital imaging industry through its technology that allows consumers to take a picture of a check with their smartphones for mobile deposit.