S.F. wants to do away with paychecks 

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San Francisco wants to take away your paycheck.

Not your pay, just the paper part. The Treasurer’s Office wants printed paychecks to become a thing of the past in The City with a new program unveiled Wednesday encouraging businesses to go completely electronic on their payroll systems.

The so-called CurrenC SF effort would connect businesses, nonprofits and financial service firms.

Treasurer Jose Cisneros said electronic payments prevent theft, save millions in check-cashing fees for people without bank accounts, and preserve 50 tons of paper annually. Cisneros said his office estimates there are 67,000 households in San Francisco who do not use direct deposits into bank accounts and 20 percent of San Francisco companies do not offer the service.

Employees without bank accounts pay as much as $1,000 per year for check-cashing fees, a problem the Treasurer’s Office has tried to combat by helping to open 72,000 accounts through its Bank on San Francisco program.

San Francisco’s attempt to become the first city in the nation to eliminate printed paychecks is just the latest in a string of recent paper reduction proposals, like banning yellow pages and limiting copies of city documents and voter pamphlets.

Mayor Ed Lee lauded the program Wednesday and called for The City to one day have a “100-percent paperless payday.” Lee also said the program could help people better manage their personal finances.

“That is critical during these times,” the mayor said.

Currently, 90 percent of The City’s 26,000 or so employees use direct deposit, although many of them are still given state-required paper notices that itemize their pay. According to the Treasurer’s Office, city employees who still get paper paychecks also get the itemization, so direct deposit results in a net decrease of paper. Employees also have the option of viewing the paystubs electronically.

Steve Falk, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the program also makes sense for employers, who spend an estimated $8 to $10 each on the 4 million paychecks that are lost or stolen every year across the U.S.

A website for the CurrenC SF program lays out a list of direct deposit programs for employers and options for payroll cards — a prepaid debit card for those who don’t choose to open a bank account.


Paycheck figures

67,000 San Francisco households still rely on paper checks

20 percent of local businesses don’t offer direct deposit

90 percent of 26,000 city workers use direct deposit

$1,000 per year paid by workers for check cashing services

SOURCE: San Francisco Treasurer’s Office

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