Many people have transitioned from writing cheques to paying all their bills through digital payment systems. This has resulted in the myth that senior citizens are the sole reason why cheques continue to be in use today. The majority seem to believe that the older generation is too set in their payment habits, which means they’re too stubborn to adopt new technology. Going by this logic, is it reasonable to say that cheques will only live as long as people over the age of 65?
It’s hard to argue with numbers, but evaluating them is crucial in understanding the real effect of age on cheque-writing habits. From 2003 to 2012, the number of issued cheques went from 36 billion to 18 billion. That’s a huge decline, yet it doesn’t contribute much to the argument that only older individuals use cheques on a regular basis.
The numbers further show that the use of personal cheques isn’t decreasing at an accelerating rate but at a linear rate. Following this trend shows that cheques will be no more in 2021. The correlation between the death rate of the over-65 age group and the decline in usage of cheques isn’t that far off. Going back to the same period between 2003 to 2012, the expected death rate is 39.6% while the percentage decrease in cheque usage is 50%.
It’s important to consider, though, that other factors are also at work. According to a 2009 report, the primary driving factor in compelling people to abandon their chequebooks is the number of alternative payment methods available. Only 13% of people over 65 and older have used mobile banking. And despite the immense popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies among younger individuals today, only a small portion of people over 45 know about digital coins.
Instead of correlating the death rate and the decrease in cheque writing over the past couple of decades, it’s more beneficial to look at the payment methods that have replaced the check. Many people would think that credit cards and mobile banking are the answer. However, studies show that credit cards account for about 20% of all payments. Debit cards, in fact, are the go-to option for most people, particularly for low-cost transactions.
Younger consumers are undoubtedly faster at adopting these newer forms of payment, but older individuals aren’t lagging behind as far as you might think. In 2006, 70% of seniors have used debit cards. Online banking is less popular among seniors, with only 47% of them having tried it but that’s not far from the 60% of the general population.
Alternative payment methods appear to be the real reason for the decline in cheque usage. Experts argue that these newer options are more efficient and convenient both for consumers and businesses. However, what’s efficient and convenient varies from one person to the next. If you think about it, nobody has ever stopped writing cheques because of age. Ultimately, it boils down to what the person’s preferred payment method is and how secure and convenient it is for the person.