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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 July 2007, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
London Underground stops cheques
Tube travellers
Oyster cards have hastened the demise of the cheque
London Underground has become the latest organisation to stop taking cheques from customers.

From 15 July, tube stations will no longer accept cheques from people buying tickets.

A growing number of retail businesses have already decided to stop taking cheques, including Asda, Morrisons, Boots, WH Smith and Shell.

The retail group Argos will stop accepting cheques on 28 July, because of "minimal usage" by customers.

The ban will cover all at its 680 stores in the UK and the Irish Republic.

Popular plastic

The demise of the cheque, not so long ago a regular feature of everyday spending, has been due mainly to the rising popularity of the debit card.

In the case of London Underground, the huge success of the touch-and-pay Oyster cards has been a crucial factor.

More than 10 million Oyster cards have been issued since they were launched three years ago.

They now account for three-quarters of all ticket payments on the buses and the Tube.

"Transactions involving personal cheques have declined over the years and now represent a fraction of 1% of the total transactions made at ticket offices," said a Tube spokesman.

"In 1990, cheques made up around 87% of non-cash transactions at ticket offices - now they make up less than 1%," he added.

While the value of all spending on cheques in the UK dropped last year by another 12% to 164bn, debit card spending rose by another 14% to 195bn.

Nowadays cheques are mainly used for paying tradesmen, or to pay utility and credit card bills.

London Underground said that fare dodgers will still be able to use cheques to pay their fares, and fines, to ticket inspectors.

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