Mayor Lee & Treasurer Cisneros Launch CurrenC SF Direct Deposit Program

Workers, Businesses & Environment Benefit by Moving to 100 Percent Paperless Payday

2/29/12—Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Treasurer José Cisneros today launched CurrenC SF, a new initiative to reduce the usage of paper paychecks in San Francisco. CurrenC SF empowers San Francisco’s businesses and workers by helping them adopt modern, innovative payroll solutions. The goal of this initiative is to achieve a fully electronic, paperless payday, helping to bring thousands of San Francisco households into the financial mainstream and reducing reliance on high-cost check cashing services.

“Direct deposit is safer, cheaper, and greener than getting paid by paper check,” said Mayor Lee. “San Francisco is a city of innovation and we are committed to increasing direct deposit and paperless pay among our own employees to lead the way to a 100 percent paperless payday that will provide for financial empowerment and greater security for our residents.”

“CurrenC SF is providing a framework for increased financial stability and better access to healthy financial institutions through direct deposit and paperless pay,” said Treasurer Cisneros. “We have created an innovative public-private initiative that brings together business associations, nonprofits, payroll companies, and financial service organizations.”

“CurrenC SF is an initiative to make businesses more efficient while providing added benefits to workers,” said U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator Elizabeth Echols. “We are looking forward to working with San Francisco to promote this exciting initiative.”

CurrenC SF is a partnership between the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way of the Bay Area, with generous support from Citi Community Development, Visa and the Levi Strauss Foundation.

“By helping San Francisco employers offer direct deposit to their employees, the CurrenC SF initiative is making payroll services more efficient and convenient in the Bay Area,” said Citi Global Director for Community Development Bob Annibale. “At the same time, the initiative is connecting San Francisco workers with the banking community, introducing some of them to mainstream banking services for the first time.”

For employers, moving to direct deposit and paperless pay can lower payroll processing costs by up to 90 percent, and eliminates the headache of lost and stolen checks. “Paper paychecks are expensive for employers to print, distribute and administer,” said San Francisco Chamber of Commerce President Steve Falk. “Providing the benefits of direct deposit to employees will improve the bottom line for countless San Francisco businesses.”

CurrenC SF is an extension of the City’s pioneering program Bank on San Francisco, which has provided over 72,000 bank accounts to low-income San Franciscans and spread to more than 100 cities across the country. Through direct deposit and paperless pay, CurrenC SF provides an effective framework for increased financial stability and better access to healthy financial institutions. By engaging businesses and nonprofits as stakeholders in the financial wellbeing of their employees, this innovative initiative will help to bring thousands of San Francisco households into the financial mainstream.

More than 67,000 households in San Francisco are paid with paper checks, including 68 percent of low-income workers. Employees who receive paper checks often turn to check cashers and other fringe financial services, costing the average worker $1,000 per year in fees. In addition, workers who cash an entire paycheck are vulnerable to theft or loss. Direct deposit delivers pay safely, immediately, and without hefty fees.

“The safest way to get paid is direct deposit instead of paper checks,” said United Way of the Bay Area CEO Anne Wilson. “We applaud the City and County of San Francisco for leading this effort and are proud to be their partner in this endeavor.”

Several CurrenC SF Employer Champions including Recology, Blue Shield of California, William Watlington Foods, Walgreens, Rickshaw Bagworks, Bi-Rite Market and Goodwill Industries were recognized for their leadership in financial empowerment efforts and participated in the launch. “This initiative respects labor, helps protect the environment, and saves us money – and that’s good business sense,” said Recology Community and Government Affairs Manager Paul Giusti.

The CurrenC SF website provides resources to help employers initiate or expand direct deposit in their organizations. The CurrenC SF website offers how-to guides, marketing materials, best practices, and expert advice to employers, and connects employees to low-cost checking accounts and other healthy financial products. In addition, the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment has worked with payroll companies, payroll card providers, banks, and other financial institutions to develop a list of healthy alternatives for businesses to consider when moving to direct deposit. For more information, go to