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The surging popularity of e-transfers could soon cancel the paper cheque's status as our favourite way to send money.

The cheque as we know it has been around for 300 years, while the Interac e-transfer dates back 15 years. But recent trends suggest e-transfers could overtake cheques in popularity in a year or two. A pair of new features to make e-transfers more convenient could speed up the process.

The e-transfer allows you to send someone money electronically through e-mail or text. Now, there's a new option to use e-transfers to request money from someone. All you need is their e-mail address or mobile phone number (for sending a text). Add a short personal message, specify the amount of money owed and then click send.

Another new e-transfer feature will help on the receiving end. You can now authorize e-transfers sent your way to be directly deposited into your account without you having to answer a security question. With the standard e-transfer, the deposit is only made after you answer a security question designed to ensure the right person is getting the money.

About 75 per cent of Interac e-transfer users have access to these two new services and most others should be on board by the beginning of next year. Expect them to help e-transfers further erode the cheque as our favourite way in Canada of sending money to someone.

Roughly 242 million personal cheques were processed in 2016 with a total value of just under $100-billion, according to Payments Canada, which co-ordinates the country's system for handling cheques, direct deposits, debit and ATM transactions and more. Interac – the ATM, debit and e-transfer network – says there were 158 million e-transfers last year with a value of $63-billion.

This year, Interac is on track to process more than 230 million e-transfers with an estimated value of $90-billion. The shift away from cheques can't come fast enough because the e-transfer is better than a cheque in every way. The sender sees the money leave his or her account immediately, so there's no waiting around. The recipient can deposit the transfer immediately using a phone, tablet or computer.

The new autodeposit feature will help speed the decline of cheques. If you're interested in bypassing the security question when you receive an e-transfer, just log into your bank account online and set it up this preference. The purpose of the security question is to protect senders in case they sent an e-transfer to the wrong e-mail address or texted it to the wrong phone number. But the security feature becomes tedious and unnecessary if you're receiving money from the same people repeatedly.

The request-money feature allows someone to send an e-mail or text to request payment of a specified amount of money. The recipient can decline the request or use a link contained in the request to make the payment through e-transfer.

It looks as if businesses are a prime target for the request-money feature. Your gardener or babysitter might use it to bill you, for example. Sending someone a request for money is also a good way to show someone how much quicker and easier e-transfer is than writing a cheque.

At least one of the banks offering the request-money feature is pitching it as being available at no cost for a trial period, which suggests a fee would be charged later. But Debbie Gamble, vice-president of digital products and platforms at Interac, said the general trend with e-transfers is for banks and credit unions to eliminate fees for a limited or often unlimited number of transactions. "These are the kind of offerings that 21st-century digital commerce users expect to have," she said. "So I think you'll see that free or a flavour of free trend continue as the service expands."

In 2002, when e-transfers were introduced, 814.5 million personal cheques were processed with a total value of $210-billion. Technology has made cashing a cheque easier in recent years – many banks now let you deposit a cheque right into your bank account by taking a photo of it with your smartphone or tablet. There's no need to go to a bank branch.

Cheques are slowly fading, though. If you doubt it, ask people 30 and under how many cheques they wrote in the past year.

As advisors shift their business to focus on more value-added offerings, many are starting to position themselves as the do-everything advisor.

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