Cheque usage declines sharply, but popularity remains intact

Cheque usage declines sharply, but popularity remains intact

New technologies come and go, but the paper cheque remains a popular staple for UK consumers and businesses, according to new figures from the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company.

Although the number of cheques written last year (718 million) is down by 68% compared with the 2,251 million cheques written in 2003, 44% of the general public are still choosing to use the paper medium, with the most common reasons being to pay a bill by post, pay a tradesperson or to pay a club or society.

Businesses are using fewer cheques than consumers, writing 293 million of them in 2013, but it was a more popular way for them to pay with 64% whipping out their cheque books last year.

Unsurprisingly, the average value of a business cheque written last year was nine times higher than that for a personal cheque, at £2,167 versus £242.

Angela Thomas, managing director of the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company, says: “Although their usage continues to decline, many consumers and businesses are still choosing to use cheques in certain situations. With nearly two million cheques written every day last year it’s clear that for some of us - whether it’s paying the window cleaner or a business paying another business - there’s a preference to pay with a chequebook and pen.”

Comments: (6)

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York 12 December, 2014, 01:14Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Continues to decline...

I believe that this will be one of those generational shift issues, and at a point in the near-term even the traditional bankers enamoured with paper cheques will recognize it is just costing the business money for a increasingly irrelevant demographic. 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 12 December, 2014, 09:431 like 1 like

If I were a bank I'd start charging customers for using checks.

Waiting untill auntie Mabel runs out of checks or simply runs out seems a little fatalistic.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 15 December, 2014, 08:46Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Cheques come with obligations recognized by law. There are established processes and legal recourse in case a cheque "bounces" or returned. Till there are situations where the beneficiary requires this protection, cheques will remain - unless similar regulations are brought around the newer payment methods.

Paul Love
Paul Love - Open Payments Cloud - Nottingham 15 December, 2014, 11:33Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

We may all agree that cheques dont have a long term future, but there is stlll a long way to go to reach agreement on how to replace them / phase them out. 

Introducing cheque imaging as a better and cheaper to process then will help the banks in the interim, but will also educate the consumers to trust more modern mobile phone baased alternatives.

See my blog on cheque imaging

http://www.finextra.com/blogs/fullblog.aspx?blogid=10278

 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 15 December, 2014, 14:17Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Could mobile cheque deposits actually halt the sharp decline of cheque usage; as cheques become easier to pay in - people become more accepting of accepting them?

Paul Love
Paul Love - Open Payments Cloud - Nottingham 15 December, 2014, 15:001 like 1 like

Mobile deposits will not halt the decline in cheque usage, but it will reduce the friction and cost. With over 44% of the general public still choosing too use the cheque, this will extend the support for their preferred choice and also give them longer to try and adopt more modern payment methods.

As consumer get used to using mobile phones for receiving cheques then they will become more willing to use their phone to actually make payments directly. 

Featured Job
All Jobs »