Monday, July 1, 2019

Checks Are Going Away

Paper, Business, Finance, Currency It is summer, so I'm catching up on watching various shows.  Its basically binge watching but on one of the period shows from the 19th century, someone wrote a check and handed it over.  I didn't think checks were used because you usually see people paying with money.

Yup, checks were used then.  In fact, the first checks as we know them appeared in 1681 when some men in Boston, mortgaged their land, so they could write checks.

For about 200 years prior to this, there was a system originating in Holland  whereby people would deposit cash with "Cashiers".  The money could then be withdrawn using a note from the account holder.  Of course there was a fee involved but it was safer than hiding it around the house.  Eventually, this system spread across Europe to the United States.  Due to all checks being hand written, many people made counterfeit checks so in response, financial institutions began requiring both parties (the writer and receiver) to appear in person before any check was cashed.

In 1762, Banker Lawerence Childs in Britain issued the first printed checks and the term "check" is said to have developed when they started numbering these pieces of paper as a way of keeping track of them or "checking" them. Unfortunately, a problem developed concerning how these banks were going to collect the monies associated with the piece of paper.

At first, banks sent runners around the the issuing facility to exchange the piece of paper for the money. This could take a lot of time and the runners would be moving cash around under unsecured circumstances.  According to bank lore, a couple of these runners met at a pub where they stopped to get some liquid refreshment.  They noted they had checks from each others bank, so they exchanged the pieces of papers and took them back to their own back.  This supposedly lead to "Clearing Houses" where the checks were sent in to be separated and sent to the issuing bank.

Over the years, more and more people are being paid through the use of direct deposit so a person never actually receives a physical check.  Furthermore, many have quit writing checks due to setting up automatic bill paying for most standard bills via direct payment from a bank account or via credit card.

The last time I wrote a check, the store ran it through a reader of some sort, marked it and then handed it back to me.  In recent years, I've quit using checks due to the connivence of using other payment methods.  I don't think I've seen anyone use a check at the grocery store or any store, except my mother who prefers them.

Will checks every disappear?  I know its been predicted by I don't know.   Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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