Thirty years ago bankers were concerned that they might soon face a check-less society where most all debit transactions were no longer paper items. This was caused by the proliferation of debit and ATM cards that hit our industry. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s banks saw Pony Express couriers pick up “cash letters” each afternoon and take them to the Federal Reserve or a correspondent bank for processing of the paper checks. Twenty years ago this practice slowed as the Fed allowed for electronic presentment of paper items deposited. In a recent report from the Federal Reserve less than 9% of all debits are paper…so we are getting close to a check-less society.
Now with the virus crisis our industry is seeing a shortage of coins from retailers across our communities. Some businesses are requiring exact change or debit card payments for the goods and services they sell. Also, with the substantial increase in purchases being made online, debit card or electronic transactions have grown significantly. There are other methods of payment such as Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay that reduce the need for consumers to carry cash. The question is “Are we getting closer to a cashless society as well?” This phenomenon has been exacerbated by trying to reduce the spread of the virus by not touching “anything”, including cash.
Banks have sought to help consumers take home the prescription drug or groceries from the store when they don’t have sufficient funds in their account. With debit card usage at an all time high, getting consumers to opt-in for electronic transactions is even more important. Letting consumers know they have a choice on how they want their account handled is good business. With paper checks and cash being used less, now is the time to review your overdraft payment process for debit card transactions.