Usage down but more than half a billion cheques written last year

Source: Payments UK

A new industry report - UK Cheques 2016 - published by Payments UK, reveals that the increased popularity of the debit card and electronic methods of payment amongst both consumers and businesses in recent years resulted in fewer cheques being written last year.

558 million cheques written in 2015 - down by 13% from 644 million in 2014
Nearly seven in ten (68%) older people still use cheques
55% of businesses still write cheques

Despite this decline, cheques remain a popular way to pay in certain situations, such as when you do not know the account number or sort code of the person you want to pay. They also continue to be an important payment method for some sections of the population - particularly people over 65, with 68 per cent of this demographic group still using them. This is in stark contrast to the payment habits of younger adults though, with 88 per cent of 16-to 34-year-olds now never writing cheques. However, the cheque is still a popular payment method for businesses - more than half of them wrote one last year, with other businesses being the main recipients.

One area in particular where personal cheque use has fallen in recent years is in payments by parents to schools, nurseries and providers of childcare services. Previously cheques were seen by many as the most convenient way to pay for these services. However, in recent years, many local authorities have provided the option for people to make school-related payments through their websites or via an online, third-party payment service.

The annual rate of decline in cheque volumes is expected to slow as their use becomes more concentrated amongst those who have a strong preference for paying by cheque, such as older people, small businesses and those who are less inclined to use online and mobile payment methods.

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