The number of cheques written by people in the UK has halved from 2.0 billion to 1.0 billion in the last ten years, according to research by payments association Apacs, which found that volumes declined at their fastest-ever rate during 2006.
Cheque volumes fell by eight per cent in 2006 and now represent just one in ten of all non-cash transactions, says Apacs.
Around 54% of adults made payments using cheques last year, while only 47% received a cheque payment. On average consumers write 1.6 cheques a month and receive just one every two months, with half of adults no longer receiving any at all. For personal payments, cheques have fallen from one in four non-cash payments in 1996, to just one in 14 in 2006.
The decline has been particularly rapid in the retail sector, says Apacs, with cheques accounting for just three per cent of all non-cash transactions.
Sandra Quinn, director of communications at Apacs, says: "Cheque use has really taken a tumble in the past decade as both consumers and businesses have increasingly made the move away from paper and opted for plastic and automated payments instead."
But despite the decline, cheques are still popular for certain types of payments - around 23% of all cheque payments are used to pay bills, while 13% of personal cheques are used for person-to-person payments.
Quinn says despite falling volumes cheques will not disappear altogether: "Although volumes will continue to fall, we forecast that there will still be around 840 million cheques used in the UK in 2016 - if you placed these cheques end to end they would stretch around the world two and half times."