Are cheques heading for extinction?


As cheque usage in Australia falls by 14% in one year, some commentators are asking whether the country will join others around the world that are looking at phasing out their usage altogether.

While cheques have fallen from favour, card payments and direct debits have gained traction.

Between 2002 and 2014, cheques saw a 71% decline. However, they are still used for property settlements and major business payments, according to the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA).

As a result, banks are unlikely to cease from accepting cheques as a payment method in the foreseeable future, says APCA.

“It’s unlikely that in Australia we’re going to have a sort of hard stop. That’s been talked about in various countries around the world that perhaps didn’t have as strong a tradition of cheques as we do where they have actually turned the cheque system off,” said chief executive Chris Hamilton.

“What’s more likely to happen is if people want a cheque book then they’ll have to find an organisation that wants to supply that.”

He added: “Older people are much more likely to use cheques than younger people. What the most recent figures show us is that cheques are falling out of general ordinary everyday use quite quickly.

“Cheques reached their sort of high point in the mid-’90s and they’ve been in decline ever since. The first part of that was quite slow but I think now we’re seeing the volumes of them dropping off.

“So I expect that within the next few years it’ll be quite rare to see a sort of cheque in everyday ordinary usage, although they will still be used for specific types of transactions.”