On the heels of a bill-paying service for its customers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced that employees will no longer be receiving paychecks.

But wait, it's not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it's quite good.

Walmart will be paying all of its employees through direct deposit, and for those who don't have a bank account -- and this is where things get decidedly 21st century -- they will instead receive their money in a debit card.

The paper paychecks is what's going out the proverbial window. It's part of what the company calls the "Walmart Sustainability Commitment," where the chain is in the midst of trying to be supplied by only renewable energy, create zero waste and sell environmentally friendly products.

That it will save a mountain of money by no longer printing paper checks for 2.1 million employees around the world is a nice side benefit, but undeniably more than a few trees will also be saved.

There's also another benefit. People who work at Walmart and don't have a checking account -- the "unbanked," they're often called -- will no longer have to go somewhere to cash their checks and lose a portion of their paycheck to a third party. They'll get it all on their prepaid fee-free Debit Mastercard.

One can only wonder if other major retail corporations will eventually follow suit, and if that might inspire other smaller companies to forgo paper checks and instead do direct deposit, which would surely please America's contract employees, freelance writers and solopreneurs who often rely on the postal service to bring their checks. "The check is in the mail," since it often isn't in the mail, has to be one of the more dreaded sentences contract workers hear.

On the other hand, maybe this new development just foreshadows that someday instead of paper checks, companies will just follow Walmart's example, and in an effort to delay sending out payment even longer, will mail their contract employees a prepaid debit card.

Which would take some getting used to. "The prepaid debit card is in the mail" doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

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