I wrote a cheque the other day. Only a small one; it was a present to a relative. A not very imaginative present, yes, but there you go.
It got me thinking, though. If cheques disappeared, how would I send this present? Some people have said that this is where prepaid cards come in (indeed, in a past life, the use of prepaid cards as presents was one of the major elements of a proposition that
was being launched). I'm not so sure...
Where can I get a prepaid card at 8:30 in the evening? I won't be keeping a stock of these things around, so when I took the decision as to what present to send, I wrote the cheque and popped it in with the birthday card. How convenient was that? So,
a prepaid card wouldn't pass the convenience test for me as a remitter of money in this, and quite possibly other similar, instances. Others have said that you'd create a credit transfer over the Internet, or via mobile phone, but neither of them fits in
the envelope with the card I sent. And of course, it doesn't quite feel like a present if you don't open something to get at it...
Then I thought about the recipient. Receiving a card from me, and possibly a couple of other people, representing a total of, say £75 (3 cards of £25 each), is all well and good, but what if they want to spend £55 on one item? The POS (or Internet) experience
would be a nightmare, if not allowed at all in some cases (certainly on most of the internet sites I buy things from), if you wanted to use all the funds on 2 cards and part of the balance on a third...
And then there's the cost. A cheque costs me diddly squat to issue, and the recipient the same to pay in. What would the issuer charge me to buy the card and the birthday boy to spend the money on it?
Maybe sometime in the future, some of this will be worked out to our satisfaction, but I don't see a solution that works in these instances at present.
It's a popular refrain that cheques are on the way out. I hope someone thinks about all the circumstances in which they're used now, and makes sure that they can all be properly accommodated before the last cheque is written. I don't see that this has
been done so far.
Long live cheques, I say.