What is the environmental cost of sending or receiving a single paper check? After all, it's just a slip of paper. How large a footprint can it really leave?
On the surface, paper billing doesn't seem so bad. But every paper-based transaction sets off a chain reaction of additional steps whose cumulative cost to the environment is much higher than you probably realize:
If just 20 percent of American households switched to paperless billing for things like utilities and mortgages, it would prevent nearly 700 million pounds of greenhouse gases from being produced, according to NACHA – the electronic payments association.
According to research by MasterCard, during times of economic despair, consumers favor financial instruments that limit their ability to overspend. At the start of the financial crisis, approximately $141 billion in consumer spending shifted from credit cards to debit card products.
American shoppers love prepaid cards. In 2012, U.S. consumers used prepaid cards to make $99.5 billion in purchases — a 19 percent increase from just the year prior. In 2014, total prepaid spending could exceed $200 billion, or roughly five percent of all retail purchases in the country.
Across the country, mobile credit card processing continues to surge as American consumers and businesses increasingly use smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices to buy and sell what they need.
All across the country, fewer and fewer Americans are carrying cash. And paper-based checks are on the decline, with just $18.3 billion in check payments in 2010, compared to $37.3 billion just 10 years prior.