Delegation and trust are essential to the smooth operation of large, geographically distributed systems, such as the US electronic retail payment system. This system supports billions of electronic transactions-from routine banking and store purchases to electronic commerce on the Internet. Because such systems provide the electronic fabric of our networked information society, it is crucial to understand rigorously and precisely the basis for the delegation and trust relationships in them. In this paper, we use a modal logic for access control to analyze these relationships in the context of checks (and their electronic equivalents) as payment instruments. While not free from risk, the retail payment system effectively balances trust, delegation, and risk on billions of transactions. Our logic allows us to explore with rigor the details of trust, delegation, and risk in these transactions.