What businesses are the top sender of checks in the US?

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Top Senders of Checks - Businesses

After an extensive search through research reports, white papers, surveys, articles, and credible databases, information on companies who are the top senders of checks in the US could not be found in the public domain. However, our researchers were able to gather relevant insights on trends and statistics regarding check usage in the US. We have reported the methodology and some helpful findings below.

CHECK USAGE STATISICS AND TRENDS IN THE US

  • American Express, which is a US based global travel, financial and network services provider and a Fortune 500 company, is the world’s largest travelers’ check issuer.
  • According to the 2018 Federal Reserve Payments Study, the number of large-institution check payments have shown an accelerated decline of 4.8 percent from 2016 to 2017 compared to 3.6 percent from 2015 to 2016. In terms of value, the changes in check payments have been inconsistent, which is corroborated by the fact that the value increased by 2.2 percent annually from 2012 to 2015, decreased by 3.7 percent from 2015 to 2016, and then again increased by 7.5 percent from 2016 to 2017.
  • Additionally, the trend in non-cash payments by number shows that the number of check payments in US have declined by more than 50% over the 2000-2015 period from 42.6 billion in 2000 to 17.9 billion in 2015. The data for 2016 and 2017 was not available the 2018 report of the Federal Reserve.
  • According to the 2016 and 2017 Surveys of Consumer Payment Choice, which was conducted by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Boston, the number of paper check adopters has steadily declined over the past 10 years. Less than 80% of consumers who had paper checks on hand reported using them even once in 2017.
  • In addition, the survey also highlighted that the average number of check payments per consumer in US has declined from 4.5 in 2015 to 3.9 in 2017. The number of consumers using checks as a payment instrument (among those who use paper payment instruments) stood at 59.6% of the respondents in 2017 down from 64.2% in 2015.
  • Data from the Association for Financial Professionals reveals that the usage of checks by businesses (B2B) to make payments for their bills plummeted from 80 percent in 2004, to 51 percent by 2016. The share of payment options such as ACH, credit cards, and ePayables in the B2B payments pie has grown each year.
  • The costs associated with check payments is primarily one of the reasons behind their truncated usage. The Bank of America estimates the cost to be around $4 to $20 per B2B check, while a survey by RPMG Research suggests that it is an average of $31 per business check. Additionally, B2B check frauds, which happen to nearly 75% of businesses, cost them between 0.5 and 1.5 percent of their total revenue.
  • The findings of a survey conducted by Credit Research Foundation (CRF) in partnership with Nacha suggest that automated clearing house (ACH) transactions will surpass checks as the leading form of payment received from business customers by 2020. By then, around 45% of payments will be accounted for by ACH while 34% of payments will be accounted for by checks. Cards (12.5%) and cash and wire (8.5%) will account for the rest.
  • According to a 2018 report from PayStream Advisors, SMEs (52%) are the largest users of checks as preferred payment method followed by mid-level companies (48%) and Large Enterprises (20%). In terms of industry, the Manufacturing and Healthcare industries (49% each) are the leading senders of checks followed by the Finance industry (35%).

Research Strategy:

While our researchers were able to locate information around the usage statistics and overall trends in check usage in the United States, specific information around top senders was not found in the public domain. Several surveys published by the Federal Reserve were found which revealed overall check usage growth/decline by volumes and value, however, they did not contain any information on the top check senders in the US. The lack of information regarding the top senders of checks in the US in the public domain is likely due to the niche nature of this information hence it has not yet been reported or published by any public database or survey. Since this information is also part of the financial operations and transactions of a company, it is also likely that the number of checks that are sent out by companies are kept confidential and is therefore not disclosed to the public. We have employed a number of strategies to compile this report.
Our research team first attempted to scour through research reports, academic studies and white papers from credible sites such as Deloitte, McKinsey, Market Radar, Business Wire, Nielsen, Academia, and the Federal Reserve. Our team wanted to find any check-related facts or topics/trends such as check issuance or sending specific to the US along with a list of companies who are leading the trend, however, no such information could be located. Only an annual study from the Federal Reserve that aims to look at the growth of various payment methods in US over a period of time was found through this search. This study highlighted how the check usage in the US has veered over the past 2-3 years but it did not contain any information on the top senders of checks in the US.
Our research team then searched through news articles from credible sites such as Forbes, WSJ, Business Insider, Bloomberg, and Live Mint; surveys from sites such as Pew Research, Deloitte, and Nielsen; statistical graphs from databases such as Statista; and posts from financial and payment information-related blogs such as Planet Money, Securion Pay, Pymnts, and Fiserv. Our team wanted to check if any of these sources have reported any data around the largest senders of checks in the US. All of the data and information found, however, were focused on the broad trends and forecasts related to check usage in the US. No pertinent information was found related to the largest check senders in the US.
Next, our research team searched through public databases of government organizations such as the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Depository and Financial Institutions Payments (DFIP), The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Our team searched through these databases under the assumption that since these organizations regulate payments and their settlement through various instruments (including checks) across businesses and consumers in the US, they may have garnered information relevant to the largest check senders in the US. The Federal Reserve was the only source that published surveys, however, these were only about the various payment instrument usage trends in the US. Our team also found a survey from the Bank of Boston done in collaboration with the Federal Reserve, however, this only revealed information around the share of consumers using checks as a payment instrument in the US and the average number of check payments per consumer. No information relevant to the request was found through this search.
Our research team then attempted to triangulate the requested information by looking into the check usage of some of the leading Fortune 500 companies and whether there is any information around these companies being the largest senders of checks in the US. Since these are some of the companies with the largest operations in the US, it is likely that they may be featured as some of the largest check senders in the US especially due to supplier-related payments. Our team was able to locate a survey that reported check usage statistics by size of organization and industry, however, specific company names were not included in the survey. Our research team used this information to further look into the largest companies belonging to the Manufacturing and Healthcare industries as these were the leading senders of checks according to the survey. These companies include Ford, General Electric, CVS Health, and United HealthGroup, however, no information around any of these companies' check sending could be located in the public domain and all information found was restricted to their supply chain operations.

Finally, our research team attempted to broaden the scope of the research beyond the standard Wonder's two-year relevance rule. With this approach, our research team hoped to find slightly outdated yet useful information relevant to the top senders of checks in the US. Our research team wanted to find past research highlighting any largest sender of checks in the US and verify if they are still the largest in the market, however, no such resource could be located around the topic.
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