A 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal titled “U.S. Companies Cling to Writing Paper Checks” refers to an Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) survey stating that 50 percent of B2B payments are still made by paper check. The accuracy of this statistic, however, relates more to larger companies with $1 billion or more in annual revenue. Many studies have shown that smaller companies have been making closer to 75 percent of their payments via paper check. This well validates an estimated cost of issuing paper checks at $26 to $54 billion annually.
Issuing checks is ten times more costly to businesses than making electronic payments. According to multiple industry studies, high cost is the primary reason nearly 80% of businesses are transitioning away from paper checks. In the survey, businesses estimated their cost to issue a paper check ranged from $1 to $26 dollars with an average cost of $5.91 per check. Bank of America gives another estimate that a business check can cost between $4 to $20 dollars, while the Aberdeen Group reports an average cost of a check payment to be $7.78.
The cost to issue a check will differ significantly between businesses due to several variables which include check volume, labor (usually the largest expense item), check & envelopes supplies, printing, mailing preparation, lockbox service fees, postage fees, bank processing fees, check reconciliation, dealing with lost checks, vendor questions and escheatment tracking to name a few.