Cheque volumes declined at a record rate in 2007 as customers reached instead for plastic debit cards to make payments, according to stats released by UK payments association Apacs.
Around 1.6 billion cheque-based payments were made in 2007, a decline of 9.3% from 2006, whilst total value of cheque payments fell 1.3%.
This is thought to be the fastest rate of decline recorded since cheque use began falling in 1991.
Over the past year more retailers in the UK have stopped accepting cheques for payments. Supermarkets Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Asda and Tesco along with retailers Boots and Marks and Spencer, are either phasing out or have already stopped taking cheques. Shell has also stopped accepting cheques at its petrol stations across the country.
Last year the UK's Payments Council, an independent body looking at the establishment of a national payments plan, said it was considering phasing out paper-based cheques in favour of a UK-wide shift to automated and card-based payments.
The proposals to eliminate cheques are part of a public consultation, launched by the Council, that will ultimately lead to the creation and adoption of a national payments plan.
In contrast to the cheque numbers, debit card usage continues to rise, with nearly five billion transactions in 2007 - up over nine per cent on 2006. Nearly £223 billion was spent on debit cards in 2007, a rise of almost 14% on the previous year.