The Australian Payments Clearing Association (Apca) says it sees no need to close the country's cheque clearing system, following a year-long consultation with payment stakeholders.
The umbrella body for the Australian payments system commenced a public consultation on the future of cheques and payments in June 2011. The review was commission on the basis of evidence showing a widespread decline in cheque use, with volumes dropping by 60% over the past decade and by a third in the past three years alone.
However, Apca found a hard core five per cent of the Asutralian population to be reliant on cheques, comprising older Australians, those in rural and regional areas and industries such as real estate.
Reporting back, Apca concludes: "It is predominantly the market that is best able to address the future needs of current cheque users as cheque usage declines. Providers and users can continue to make their own decisions about cheque use, though it needs to be understood that users may be charged fees as a result of increase in marginal costs."
Apca says it will also work with banks to explore the possibilities of cheque truncation and imaging to reduce the infrastructural costs of processing cheques.
The body also intends to set up a 'Milestones Project Steering Committee' in mid-2012 to monitor cheque decline and the take up of alternatives electronic payment options. It will issue its first six-monthly report in early 2013.