SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Trevor Parsons, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

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As Alternative Currencies Have Yet to Catch on, Many Consumers Still Turn to Checks as a Popular Form of Payment for Retail Purchases

Alternative currencies, such as Bitcoin, are making headlines, and many retailers are paying increasing attention to their potential. However, although these innovative currencies may be in the news, awareness among U.S. consumers is still quite low. In fact, in a recent survey, an overwhelming majority – 76% – said they were not at all familiar with Bitcoin.1

Since alternative currencies aren’t likely to become commonplace in the near term, it’s no surprise that checks remain a highly-used method of payment. Results from a 2010 Federal Reserve Payments Study reveal that 24.4 billion checks are written in the U.S. annually – with 27.8 billion checks written in 2009 valuing $32.4 trillion and an average of $1,165 per check.²

Cummins Allison, the leading innovator and provider of check, currency and coin handling solutions as well as ATMs, shares how retailers can continually be prepared to efficiently handle check payments.

Checks are Still a Popular Form of Payment

According to the aforementioned survey, 79% of consumers would never consider using Bitcoin, and younger consumers are no more likely to be aware of Bitcoin than the older respondents. Only 11% of the consumers over 65 years old said they would be willing to use an alternative currency.³

There are a number of reasons that many consumers may still prefer traditional payment forms, like checks, including:

  • Enhanced security to thwart fraud. Should a shopper’s wallet or purse become lost or stolen, thieves can often carry out small credit or debit card purchases without a signature. Yet, banks and merchants require a signature on a check. Thus, fraud is much more difficult with a check versus other payment methods.
  • Ease of use. One in five U.S. households, or 20%, do not have Internet access.Unable to have access to funds electronically, many customers find it easier to just write a check. Retailers must still be able to cater to patrons that don’t have Internet access or may not be tech-savvy.

Broad acceptance, enhanced security to protect sensitive information, and ease-of-use are just a few reasons why retailers are experiencing sustained use of check payments. As such, retailers across the country must continue to be prepared to handle and process checks efficiently.

Handling Checks with the Proper Processing Technology

Consumers benefit from the security and flexibility afforded by the use of checks. To ensure quick and accurate processing of these forms of payment, retailers should leverage the latest in check processing technology, which is capable of capturing 400 items per minute.

By investing in an updated check scanning machine that can also process cash, retailers are able to spend less time processing transactions and spend more time on the floor with shoppers, enhancing their experience and encouraging them to purchase more products. The ability to process multiple forms of payment on the same equipment can also cut costs and streamline daily operations.

For more information on the benefits of check scanning and processing equipment, visit cumminsallison.com/checks.

1, 3 OMNITEL poll by GfK North America, January 2014

² Federal Reserve System, http://www.frbservices.org/files/communications/pdf/research/2010_payments_study.pdf

Face the Facts, http://www.facethefactsusa.org/facts/20percent-of-American-Households-Still-Offline

About Cummins Allison

Cummins Allison is a global leader in developing solutions that quickly and efficiently count, sort and authenticate currency, checks and coin. We also offer a complete line of full-function automated teller machines (ATMs). Our leadership in technology and product innovation spans more than 125 years. Cummins Allison serves the majority of financial institutions worldwide, as well as leading organizations in retail, gaming, law enforcement and government. Ninety-seven percent of our customers would recommend our products and services. The company holds more than 350 patents and invests double the industry average in R&D. Our world-class sales and service network includes hundreds of local representatives in more than 50 offices in North America, wholly-owned subsidiaries in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Ireland and Australia and is represented in more than 70 countries around the world. For more information, visit cumminsallison.com.

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