When moving to the US from Switzerland, I have been surprised by the difference in banking systems. One point that interests me particularly is the use of checks vs wire transfers.
In Switzerland, the default way of paying somebody is to transfer money to their account. This is free, can be done online, and the money arrives the next day. It's a bit like PayPal, except that payments cannot be undone.
In the US, from what I've learned so far, to pay somebody I write a check on their name. The payee then brings the check to a bank to receive the money. Wire transfers in the US seem to incur high fees.
From a newcomer's perspective, the US system seems more complicated, more expensive, and more prone to fraud. What are its advantages? Why are things the way they are?