Guest Post

History of Personal Checks and Their Increasing Decline

Personal checks have been around for centuries, but writing checks seems to be going obsolete with all the digital banking technology available today.  Personal checks originated as early as 300 BC in Indiawhere there were banking orders known as adesha.  Since then many civilizations have used the check, ancient Romans, Muslim traders, 12th to 15th century European civilizations and modern era.  Today millions of checks are written every day.   However, with instant payments via debit and credit cards, personal checks written at a store is a rare sight to see.  Checks and money orders are still very common with slower pace transactions today, such as to pay bills, rent payments and wages. 

Just in the last decade or two, there have been huge changes to how we exchange money.  Electronic checks are growing more and more popular every year.  Around the 1990s a law was put in place which allows for cheque truncation.  Cheque truncation is where personal checks can be exchanged into an electronic form to transfer through a bank’s clearing house.  This reduces processing costs and also saves time from organizing all the physical checks themselves.

It wasn’t until 2002 that European countries adopted the idea to phase out ‘cheques’ completely with their Eurocheque system.  As of 2012, there are many countries that have removed the concept of cheques altogether.  Debit and credit cards are becoming increasingly preferred.  ATMs are growing in amounts around the world, allowing for easy access to cash for your accounts.  So yes, personal checks are still out there live and well, especially in America, but throughout the world they are slowly declining in use with the new digital age.

About the author: Louis Patrick has been working in banking for several years and has been studying the ins and outs of changes to banking and finance industry.

This is a guest post

Comments (4)

  • I remember a finance class in the late 60s that said we were in a paperless or checkless society. It has taken more than 50 years to even see a decline. People affect this kind of change.

    Reply
  • I get really frustrated when someone pays for something at the store with a check. They have to write the check, present an I.D. The cashier has to put it through the register. It is like a 5 minute process. Credit card or debit card swipe takes 30 seconds.

    Reply
  • I’m still amazed that people use checks.

    Reply
  • I was not aware that checks have been phased out in Europe. I guess the U.S. is behind times. I still use checks and debit card but would change over to debit card
    if I had to.

    “It wasn’t until 2002 that European countries adopted the idea to phase out ‘cheques’ completely with their Eurocheque system. As of 2012, there are many countries that have removed the concept of cheques altogether. “

    Reply

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