A group of researchers based at Newcastle University, that I am associated with, have been working with Eighty Somethings (people over the age of 80) to design better payment technologies for older people. The work included interviews, focus groups and co-design workshop with Eighty Somethings and was conducted over a 3 year period (see also The Guardian Angel Debit Card in these pages).
This work, particularly the co-design workshops, suggested that the traditional paper cheque required better integration with digital banking systems. By working closely with our participants, a new cheque book was invented which allowed paper cheques to be written with digital pens. The working prototype shown in the picture below features a commercially available Anoto digital pen.
When the writing of a cheque is completed, the pen sends the payment information wirelessly to an online payment service (in this case PayPal) which then transfers the requested funds to the payees account. Crucially, these digital cheque books require no direct interaction with any technology other than the digital pen. The digital cheque has the convenience of an electronic transaction but retains the affordances of a paper transaction. For example, if you are making a gift you can give the cheque to the payee as a physical present that records the transaction. The cheques had a cheque stub for the payer to record the payments made, another feature of paper cheques valued by our Eighty Somethings.
See this demo at http://www.eightysomething.org/design/cheque-mates
Find out about the methods used in this research at http://www.eightysomething.org/design