For Matt Greenough, the director of cash management at Little Caesars Pizza, fixing the problem with checks at the privately held international chain was not just a matter of making an inefficient process more efficient. He decided the real solution was for the company to never have to deal with checks at all. So instead of fussing with the installation of remote deposit or ACH point-of-purchase conversion equipment, he decided to eliminate the need for either by eliminating checks as a payment method entirely–at least, in very select markets. "As an experiment, it made sense," says Greenough. "We don't feel we've lost the competitive edge. If we are losing customers to competitors who are still accepting paper checks, can we live with it? The answer is yes–at least, at [a couple of locations]."

While Greenough only launched the checkless experiment in Las Vegas in December 2003 and then a few months later in Houston, two years later family-owned Little Caesars–with $1.5 billion in revenues–has moved well beyond that. "We've already pulled check acceptance from 10 out of 18 markets," says Greenough. "Implementation is complete for about 60% of our stores. Our goal is to eliminate paper checks as a payment method in 2006."

While the Little Caesars initiative may seem bold to many, it certainly reflects the dreams of most. Paper checks are a vestige of a pre-digital economy, and although some consumers and most companies still cling to them, they are increasingly coming to realize that technology exists, through cards and other electronic payment methods, to set them free.

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