Is It Time to Rename ‘Checking Accounts?’

Yesterday’s article about the archaic credit union term for checking accounts (“share draft accounts”) sparked a wider debate about the very future of what checking accounts should be called. As Bryan Link with Brightleaf Financial wonders, “The name ‘Checking Account’ implies its main purpose is writing checks, although for a growing segment this account is mainly for automatic drafts and debit card transactions.”

Key Questions:

  • If fewer and fewer people are using checks, why are they still referred to as checking accounts?
  • If the trend towards paperless payments continues and you look ahead 15-20 years, how many people (regular consumers, not businesses) will still be using checks? For that matter, how many people will still be using cash?
  • When will paper checks become obsolete? When that happens, what will checking accounts — as a category of financial products — be called?

Are ‘checking accounts’ obsolete?

As more financial institutions respond to people’s environmental concerns, and as they increasingly shift consumers to online channels, they’ve renamed their checking accounts accordingly:

  • citizens-bank-green-sensee-Checking
  • e-Account
  • Green$ense
  • Greener Choices Checking
  • Totally Green Checking
    (where you get your first box of checks free)

Key Question: If you offer a “green” checking account, why would you offer checks? In which case, why would you call it a “checking account” at all?

Some of the new names proposed for checkless checking accounts include:

  • Debit Accounts (suggested by Ron Shevlin, senior analyst with Aite Group)
  • Transaction Accounts
  • Spending Accounts (suggested by Tim McAlpine from Currency Marketing)
  • Cash Accounts (suggested by Brent Dixon, a financial marketing/design wizard)
  • Virtual Accounts (suggested by Carla Day from CU Chat Up)

Further Discussion: What do you think? What suggestions do you have for the future name of “[Checking] Accounts?” What terms do financial institutions in other parts of the world use? Will people still refer to them generically as “bank accounts” no matter what name they’re given?

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