The Cost of Checks in Small Business Payments

Survey data suggests that small businesses are throwing away $13.1 billion each year maintaining check operations.

Over the last few months, I’ve met a lot of customers, large and small, looking for simple solutions or highly technical integrations with our network. No matter the industry or size of the company, they all share a similar pain point—the inefficiency and inherent cost of the paper check. We set out to calculate the real cost of the check to small business—we used survey and industry data, and the results make it clear it is time to replace the check.

Dwolla provides small businesses free tools to replace the costs of all sorts of checks, like paper checks, business checks, cheap checks, bill payments, and payouts. The payment network works well with invoicing and bookeeping solutions, helping accounts payable save time and money.

The hard costs of checks: (according to industry data)

  • Time: The average businessperson reports spending approximately 5 hours a month writing or worrying about checks, or 60 hours a year.
  • Supplies: Half of small businesses spend up $25 on check materials.
  • Invoice Cycle: The invoice cycle takes approximately 17.9 days to complete when using paper checks.
  • The Cost: According to industry data, it costs $7.15 to process each paper check.

The hard cost may not seem as much when compared to interchange fees, bank fees, or money transfer fees of other payment mediums, but like many small problems the costs can add up quickly and the intangible costs have an impact too.

The hidden costs of checks:
The time and the lack of visibility into your cash flow can impact your ability to make financial decisions. You don’t control when the receiver will cash your check. In fact, one report we found suggested paper checks contribute to longer payment cycles, as long as 18 days?

How much checks cost the U.S.:
Now consider that there are 23 million businesses (according to, and 67% of them still issue paper checks. We did the math, and discovered checks cost $13.1 billion to small business in the U.S. That’s a lot of capital tied up in an old and inefficient process.

Dwolla is cheaper than a stamp:
With Dwolla, writing checks can be a thing of the past. For 25 cents a transaction you can put your checkbook out of business and send quick, safe, and secure payments online. This takes the hassle out of the process, giving you the financial visibility you’ve always wanted, while forgoing the heavy fees traditionally associated with moving money.

Our latest release of Next Day Transfers allows businesses, government agencies, and non-profits to move funds in and out of the Dwolla network faster than ever, increasing control of your cash flow and reducing billing or procurement cycles. Instead of waiting 3-4 days for funds to move from your financial institution to Dwolla, funds will move in 1 business day. And because we’re Dwolla, our low-transaction cost of $0.25 cents for all transactions over $10 and free for anything under applies.

Our team’s mission is to create the best way to move money. We believe moving money should be simple, so we are working each day to remove friction, create easy-to-use tools so that money moves quickly and safely without extra fees or hidden costs.

  • Matt

    Hey Anne,

    I’ve got Batman on my personal check’s, what about you?

    Cash > Coins > Checks > Cheques > Dwolla > PayPal > Throw in the foreign currency, cryptocurrency plus all else.

    • Austin Storm

      I don’t know what this means… are those greater-than signs?