March 21st, 2013

WIC may switch to EBT nationwide by end of 2020

They're collecting comments on a proposed rule. If you want to participate, you have until May 29, 2013.

A map of the status of various states can be found here:

In case it isn't obvious, I wound up here as part of my efforts to figure out when paper checks go away completely. I don't think they're gone in less than two years, but I have trouble visualizing them still hanging around 10 years from now.

One of my other recent data points on eliminating paper checks involves my efforts to learn how to do a bank-to-bank transfer (both my accounts) without using a check to accomplish the goal. I contacted the bank I want to send money from to ask about setting up EFT, and they said _they'd mail me the paper form_. That is clearly something that needs a little adjustment.

How Many People Still Get Paper Statements

I find it really hard to get a sense of where people are in the replace-physical-transactions-with-electronic transition. Part of the problem is that so many of the people I know are in the Pacific Northwest, and they are further along the curve than some other parts of the country. Another part of the problem is that it's Not OK to go asking people about how they handle The Paying of The Bills.

Until quite recently, I was still doing virtually everything in p-form, but as I have blogged about over the last few months, I got a password manager and then went a little nuts attempting to eliminate every stream of paper I could identify moving through my life. So I'm far from an early adopter, but I couldn't even tell which side of the median I was on. And I still don't know, because this is from 2011.

I'm a customer of TD Bank. We like their lollipops. Also, it's pretty easy to qualify for free checking with them (I think my account has something like a $100 minimum balance). They have some other nice features, altho I wish they had some mechanism, ideally an iOS app, for depositing checks remotely. Other banks do this but as yet, TD Bank doesn't. OTOH, they have a branch within walking distance with awe-inspiringly great hours, a drive-up ATM, a 24/7 indoor ATM and, may I add, the lollipops. The kiddies like the lollipops.

I didn't even know that TD Bank had a $1 fee for paper statements, because as I noted above, I didn't even really realize they charged for checking. I wound up at TD Bank when they bought a bank that bought a bank that I signed up with because they had free checking (Bank of New Hampshire, IIRC). Banking with a large chain is nice, because it's easier to find ATMs that are included in the network.

According to this piece, $1 represents approximately the cost of sending out that paper statement. And as I've noted, it isn't terribly hard to avoid the fee anyway. But this sure caught my eye:

"John Rosenfeld, head of retail deposits at TD Bank, estimates that the majority of the bank's 6.5 million checking account customers receive paper statements. The $1 discount is roughly in line with the cost per statement, he said."

If (and this is obviously not true, but bear with me) everyone wanted the statements AND failed to meet the requirements to waive the entire fee, that fee could generate TD Bank almost $80 million a year. So that's not true. I wonder if it's half that? It's a fee that is likely to decrease, if it is an effective incentive/disincentive, particularly on the $3.99/month checking customers for whom the $1 represents 25% of the cost of their checking account.

If, as people switch to estatements to avoid the fee or Just Because, the take from the fee declines, ya gotta believe that it'll go up (more or less what has happened with the various phases of the we're not giving you your canceled checks back process), finding layers of How Much Do These Customers Care about paper statements.

I'll keep looking for evidence in support of this prediction.