It may seem almost hard to believe, but more than a quarter of workers still receive paper paychecks, say NACHA and PayItGreen, adding that touting the environmental benefits of paperless checks can be a way for banks to boost direct deposit adoption among small businesses.

According to a new survey from the two groups, the 27 percent of old school paychecks are largely due to small businesses not offering direct deposit to their employees.

"The lack of adoption by consumers isn't by choice. That's a surprise and highlights the opportunity that still exists in [direct deposit]," says Samantha Carrier, a senior director at NACHA. The study shows the U.S. stands in stark contrast to other developed nations, in which the adoption of direct deposit is nearly 100 percent. For U.S. companies with less than 100 employees, 48 percent receive direct deposit, while for companies with fewer than 30 employees, penetration is only 35 percent.

The impact on paper savings is proving to be a strong draw. Among employee users of direct deposit, 53 percent say the "green" benefits are "very" or "extremely" motivating.

NACHA and PayitGreen say that a business that employees 300 people and issues two paychecks each month via direct deposit, saves 121 pounds of papers avoids dispensing 1,159 gallons of wastewater into the environment, saves 45 gallons of gas and avoids the release of 346 pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. The firms also say companies can save up to $3.15 per payment by using direct deposit instead of paper checks. "The environmental approach is a call to action for small businesses and is popular with consumers," says Carrier.

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