I’ve recently seen the juxtaposition of old-fashioned payments and the innovative uses of modern ones.

A friend got a new car loan and received a paper coupon book in the mail, presumably to tear off a page to mail with a monthly payment. Other friends receive paper envelopes to make weekly donations to their church — even though they send an annual check. Residents of Hudson, Iowa are lamenting the purchase of their local utility in part because they “won’t be able to walk or bike down the road to pay in person.” All these situations are carryovers from a previous era when the paper check was the primary mode of payment.

Today, more and more vendors are taking advantage of Venmo or Square that allows almost everyone to accept credit. A church in New Mexico had an iPad anchored at the entrance to accept electronic contributions from tourists. Native Americans were selling their handmade crafts from a blanket, but you could pay with a credit card. A farmer with a pumpkin stand on the side of the road listed her Venmo account for payment. Even a man who was begging for money on the street corner had a Venmo address on his cardboard sign!

Consider the temperament and comfort level of your audience. Are you able to give people a choice of payment method (e.g. one church asks parishioners if they want the envelopes before automatically sending them)? Are you able to accommodate both paper and electronic technologies? Have you incorporated enough options to handle the multitude of options available today? As cash fades from everyday use, it may be time to revisit what is king in your payment system.

Thanks, Amy!

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