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What will change by 2023: payments

Really?
R. mentioned that Social Security had switched, like many state benefits, away from paper checks. That was a while ago, or so we thought until I realized I knew someone on social security who was still getting checks. What?

http://www.fms.treas.gov/news/press/treasury_to_retire_paper_check.html

New people signing up did not get a paper check option as of 1 May 2011. Everyone is switched over by 1 Mar 2013.

Here are some things to think about:

The e-bill/pay online process I went through in the fourth quarter of 2012 means that I will be writing about 25% fewer checks in 2013 as I did in 2012. Many of the remaining checks are to "occasional pay" or "one time only pay" situations that would be hard to pay online, but not impossible -- TD bank would let me do an e-check even for these situations, but it would require some effort on my side to get routing numbers and account numbers for the payee. I'll experiment with doing that over the next year. Other checks are to contractors; again, I could try to convince them to give me routine numbers/account numbers but I have no idea if they would. I could also pay them in cash (altho some of those bills are large enough that I'm not sure how I feel about paying cash for them).

However, looking at a list of online payment service providers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_on-line_payment_service_providers

It's kind of easy to imagine that within the next ten years, 90% or more of what I currently pay by physical check will be replaced by e-check or some other transaction method. I don't know _what_ the method will be, just that I expect that to happen, at least for me and probably R.

I already use a credit card for nearly all purchases, however, there are a few that are small (some meals, beverages, snacks when out and about) that I use cash for. What could replace that cash? Starbucks is already pushing hard to switch people over to their reloadable cards and Rewards program, and has an app for paying using your phone. It's hard to know just how far down that path we might go. While I laugh at science fiction novels with faster than light travel that still use anonymous cash like payments, I'm not sure 10 years is a time frame in which cash will go away.

ETA: An excellent, short article on the topic of evolving payment processing with charts from a very reputable source:

http://www.frbsf.org/education/activities/drecon/2012/Dr-Econ-q1.html

Wikipedia on the cheques, I picked a pointer into the current time frame, which includes how things work now and where they are headed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheque#Modern_era

ETAYA: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2079034

Really good, but I'd skip some of the middle and jump ahead to sections 5 and 6, where they speculate about future developments.