"We are concerned that this [decision] will give the green light to banks and retailers to start phasing them out even sooner [than 2018]," said Andrew Harrop, of Age Concern and Help the Aged.
"The Payments Council needs to urgently come up with some practical alternatives to replace cheques or it will be condemning thousands of older people to extra worry, cost and financial insecurity."
Dot Gibson, of the National Pensioners Convention, said: "This is such a selfish decision, made by people who are clearly out of touch with the way millions of older pensioners manage their affairs."
Many stores - including all the major UK supermarket chains - have chosen to stop accepting cheques as shoppers turned to debit cards or stick with cash. Cheques are also the most expensive form of transaction for shops.
The cheque's predecessor was the bill of exchange - a way for traders to buy and sell goods without the need to carry cumbersome and valuable quantities of gold and silver.
The earliest cheque in the UK was thought to have been written 350 years ago, dated 16 February. It was made out for £400, signed by Nicholas Vanacker, made payable to a Mr Delboe, and drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton - scriveners and bankers of the City of London.
In the early days, cheques were used relatively infrequently, mainly by merchants and traders for high-value transactions. They had to be confident that these handwritten pieces of paper could be guaranteed.
They were often issued by goldsmiths within a local network of traders who knew and trusted each other.
Printing processes meant they started to be used by customers of commercial banks. Personal cheque payment volumes reached a peak of 2.4 billion in 1990, and have since fallen steadily to 663 million in 2008.
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