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Video Didn't Kill the Radio Star, But the Debit Card Killed the Check

Rebecca J. Rosen
SNL Financial

A little more than a decade ago, Americans wrote more than 70 million checks a day. In the first quarter of 2013, daily check volume was down -- way down, about two-thirds off its peak -- to about 25 million checks per day, according to a new report from SNL Financial.

In recent years, direct deposit, debit cards, and other forms of electronic transfers have largely replaced checks, which are easy to lose and costly. According to a report in the Sun Sentinel, it costs 92 cents more per payment for the Social Security Administration to pay someone by check than it does by direct deposit. The agency said it could save as much as $120 million per year if checks were eliminated.

Contrasting with the declining volume of checks is the rising per-check value, from an average of $700 per check to around $1,300. Many people continue to use checks to pay their rent, one of the biggest items in a household's budget, and business-to-business transactions make up a good portion of check activity as well. For smaller fees and exchanges, many people are opting for other methods, including online services such as PayPal and apps like Venmo.

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