Monday, November 23, 2009

End of the check-book?

A report from England suggests that banking authorities are about to phase out the check-book after 350 years of use.

Cheques are to be abolished under controversial plans being drawn up by bankers.

They are widely expected to vote next month for the chequebook to be consigned to history.

Yesterday, the move was criticised by consumer groups, business lobbyists and charities representing the elderly.

They raised fears that vulnerable people, who have relied on their chequebook all their lives, will be left confused.

Many others simply prefer to pay by cheque, instead of by direct debit or bank transfer.

The Payments Council said its research shows the number of cheques being written every day has fallen dramatically in recent years.

At their peak in 1990, around 11million cheques were written every day. Latest figures show the number has dropped to around 3.8million.

Cheques, which were first used in Britain 350 years ago, are also an expensive form of payment for banks.

They cost around £1 each to process, which is four times as much as electronic payments.

There's more at the link.

The abolition of checks wouldn't be immediate, of course, and would take place over several years. Also, if it happens in one country, we may be sure it'll spread to others as well - I can't imagine the US being far behind Britain if this decision is taken.

In one sense, I can understand banks wanting to get rid of an old-fashioned manual funds transfer mechanism like checks: but with the huge potential for electronic fraud already demonstrated in so many ways, can a secure alternative be found?



Anonymous said...

I use ATMs, like everybody else, for "walking around money." But I like having a provable document for certain payments, and larger ones than I'm comfortable using cash for. And the documentary trail is easy using checks while not so much paying in cash.


Crucis said...

I'm not surprised. I've heard a number of friends say the same---some who work in the banking industry. Debit cards are taking over.

I still have one. But I only write a couple or three checks a year. One for my gun club dues and I can't remember the other. For everything else, I use my debit card.

Due days of writing a check to take advantage of the "float" are over. I'm not sure it that's good or bad.

Don said...

I haven't written a check in years. In fact, I wouldn't even know where my wife keeps the checkbook nowadays. She'd probably say that's a good thing.