San Francisco’s campaign for electronic payroll.

CurrenC SF helps lower-income workers build
financial security, starting with how they get paid.

Among low-income workers, paper paychecks can be a problem disguised as a solution.

Seventy percent of San Francisco’s low-income workers get paper paychecks. Because many are unbanked, they have to use check cashers every payday. The fees can cost each worker hundreds of dollars a year.

Electronic pay changes everything. Without paper checks, workers don’t need check cashers. They save more, move away from the financial fringe, and enter the financial mainstream.

Replacing paper paychecks might not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually a huge step towards a more secure foundation. When low-income workers have more money in their pockets, and a relationship with a financial institution, they’ve got a firmer grip on the economic ladder.

We work with business to get every worker into electronic pay.

Many businesses already offer traditional direct deposit, but that might not be the best option for every worker. Other workers may resist giving up something as symbolic and tangible as a paycheck.

At CurrenC SF, our job is to help you find the best solutions for all your workers. We can get you special low-cost accounts at local banks and credit unions. We can connect you directly to the best,

most pro-worker payroll cards on the market. You find what’s best for you, and we’ll work with you to get as close as possible to 100% enrollment.

As a City program, we don’t sell anything or charge any money. Our mission is to provide the resources and support you need.


  • No more check cashing fees.
  • Hundreds of dollars a year in savings.
  • Higher take-home pay — it’s literally like getting a bonus.
  • Less financial stress.
  • Less likely to need payday loans.
  • More likely to save.
  • Access to financial mainstream— savings, loans, credit history.
  • Cuts processing, printing and distribution costs up to 90%.
  • Eliminates lost or stolen checks, which can run $8 – $10 each.
  • Less financial stress for workers can mean better mood, greater focus, and higher productivity.
  • Families and communities become more stable.
  • Workers with money use fewer city resources.
  • Local businesses get more customers.
  • The tax base grows.
Instantly-available pay. 

Employees’ accounts and cards are instantly credited with their full pay amount, by the morning of payday or even earlier.

Less risk of ID theft. 

Without paper paychecks, personal information is less likely to fall into the wrong hands.

No more wasted time. 

It can take hours to pick up a check, travel to a bank or check cashing service, wait for help, and travel back to home or work. With electronic pay, wages are available instantly.

24-hour access to wages. 

via national ATM networks.

Empowers families. 

Some payroll cards come with features like text and email alerts, bill pay, and additional cards for family members.

Reliable, no matter what. 

While rare, natural disasters or other large-scale emergencies can interrupt mail (and paycheck) delivery, or force banks to close. With electronic pay, employees still get paid on time.

No more check-cashing fees. 

Electronic pay gets wages into employees’ hands immediately, with no charge. Workers can save hundreds of dollars a year.

Better for asset-building. 

Electronic pay helps employees enter the financial mainstream and save for the future.



$711: amount average unbanked worker pays for check cashing and other services, per year.

459%: average annual interest rate charged by payday lenders.

4 million: number of paychecks lost or stolen each year.

$8-10: average employer cost for each replacement check.

$2.87 – $3.15: average extra cost of each paper paycheck, per payment, vs. direct deposit.

20 hours: amount of work time, per month, a financially distressed employee spends dealing with personal financial problems.