• News Feeds
Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Time to cheque out?

A person writing a cheque
"It's in the post" But have cheques had their day?

Should cheques be phased out? That's the question which the organisation responsible for them, the Payments Council, will decide today.

It's voting on a proposal to gradually end the used of cheques - which were introduced in 1659 - by 2018.

Sandra Quinn, the council's spokesperson, told the Today programme that cheques were "in terminal decline", with a huge increase in the used of debit cards and online payments but that if they were to be phased out "alternatives will have to be in place".

But the proposal has met with huge criticism. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says that older people and small businesses will be adversely affected by the move.

Stephen Alambritis, the FSB's head of public affairs, told Today that cheques were "a mark of trust and confidence" and were particularly valued by older people and small businesses and that any change to their status should happen "organically", adding: "It does not behove the Payments Council to entice the demise of the cheque."

Do you think it's time for cheques to check-out? Or do they still play an important part in you life? We'd like to know.

How many small businesses get fobbed off with "the cheque is in the post" I used to run a small business and I have lost count of the times that excuse was used. Electronic payment direct removes that old excuse.
Rod de St Croix, London

Here in Germany there are no cheques. Older people seem to manage fine. You can go to your local bank and do a transfer by filling out a little transfer form.
Sharon Harrington, Eutin, Germany

Can't beleive what I am hearing on the phasing out of cheques. I use the internet. I have plastic. I use loads of cheques. Charities; local retailers; retailers on the internet who do not use cards!
Cait Duerden, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire

How on earth would I send money to my Grandchildren if there were no cheques?
Valerie Shaw, Ludlow, Shropshire

If it's not broken; make sure you break it.
Nigel James, Exeter Devon

There is one point which has been missed, it's all very well changing to electronic systems of payment, but you still need a paper back up in the event of power cut, internet failure or computer failure. With cards we still have a paper back up which must need similar resources to process as cheques.
Neil Young, Plymouth

As Treasurer of a small amateur cricket club with an annual turnover of £3,000 almost all in small amounts involving individuals, getting rid of cheques will make my job almost impossible. I'm already hamstrung by the ridiculous, intrusive and bureaucratic money laundering rules which make it almost impossible to change officers and signatories. This would be the last straw.
Phil Barton, Manchester

I buy a lot of things through mail order catalogues. Because of security fears, I never give my card number but always pay by cheque. I know a lot of people who feel the same. What will happen to the business of these mail order companies?
Maggie Hughes, Stafford

How about a new generation of 'smart' cheques? They could come with added security by registering them online. There is an alternative of an individual chip but that would make them more secure but would prove too costly for general use.
Rick Bryant, Exeter

The overriding assumption seems to be that all payments are to organisations, to whom any electronic system is workable. However, most individuals have no way of receiving money by credit card or electronicaly. Without cheques, payments to individuals will require cash. Anyone fancy carrying around a couple of thousand pounds to buy a car privately?

It may also come as a surprise to banks, the government and others that there are a considerable number of people without access to the internet or a mobile phone to make payments. Many are elderly. Are they supposed to purchase these and pay the rentals just so the receiving organisations have the administrative convenience of receiving payments electronically?
Nick Adams, Chester England

As someone who is involved with a number of charities who have to have multiple signatories to authorise payments - how will charities be able to maintain such procedures without cheques?
Colin Alsbury, Frome, Somerset

Owning a mobile 'phone is not law. Owning a computer with online connectivity, is not law. Banks could, however, follow the route of many well-known retailers that email verifiable (bar code) and printable vouchers to customers. This would at least save some cost to banks.
Pete Triggs, London, England

It's not all about retail. Cheques are useful for medium-sized transactions between individuals. Example: I do shopping for my father.

At the end of the week I give him the total and he writes me a cheque. He cannot "go to the bank and fill out a little form" each time.

Also, I do order goods online with a credit card, but then pay the credit card bill by cheque. And yes, machines can break down: the drycleaner's card machine was broken the other day so I paid by cheque. Otherwise I'd have had to go to the machine half a mile away and come back with cash, or leave my dry cleaning another week.
Kiran Kataria, Bath, UK

Bank transfers are a much better way of making payments than cheques. First of all they don't require any action on the part of the payee. Secondly they are based on the bank account numbe, rather than the identity of the payee. Much more secure. And finally they are faster.

The modern option of managing everything online is an added bonus, but bank transfers have been around since the early 17th century in Europe. It is about time that the UK caught up.
John Hudson, Kenley, UK

Why should I fork out for a mobile phone (when I dont need one) just to pay bills with? What about small tourist attractions who can't afford to pay for merchants' accounts, to take plastic payments?

What about tiny charities in the same position? What will people do in the event of power failures or computer breakdown? You notice it's all about "better for big businesses", and not "better for the people".
ChrisD, Bristol UK

About three weeks ago the village where I live was cut off entirely from the phone lines. No landline phones, no internet, etc.

The result was that credit and debit cards did not work because the system could not communicate. The village cash machine did not work either.

Cheques were used quite heavily that day. Whilst paperless payment methods rely on fallible communications infrastructure then an alternative should be kept, no matter how rarely it is used.
I S, Huddersfield

The discussion ignored the fact that in a growing number of cases payment by cheque are not accepted. Several Service providers will only allow payment by direct debit. BT charges £4.50 per quarter to pay by cheque. So long as cheques remain legitimate, people should not be penalised or prohibited from using them.
P Hayward, Rochdale

If cheques are the most expensive way for a business to accept payment, why do I pay surcharges for using my credit card but have never been charged extra for paying by cheque ?.
Stan Smith, Medway UK

I can't remember the last time I used a cheque. People who still use cheques are dinosaurs. There is nothing that can't be done easier by electronic transfer, especially if you get lots of little payments like small businesses, clubs and charities, as admin in massively cut down by not having to post each cheque. Come on you dinosaurs. Get on the internet!
Jonathan M, Nottingham

Cheques disappeared in the Netherlands more than ten years ago ! In shops you use your debit card or cash (or credit card). If you get a bill by post it has a tear-off slip at the bottom where you add your bank account number and signature and post it to your bank. You can also pay the same bill via internet banking. Although virtually all regular bills are paid by direct debit.

Instead of the 3-5 days to clear a traditional cheque, most transactions clear in just 1 working day- small businesses love it !
Paul, Rotterdam, Netherlands

I thought we're supposed to have freedom of choice. I am sick and tired of being dictated to by companies/banks just because they want to find more ways of reducing their outgoings and taking away jobs to simply satisfy their own needs.

If the banks want to continue then they have to learn to listen to the customers and if there's even a minority still using and needing chequebooks then they have to respect this.
Petra Hirst, London

I've been living in Brussels for over a decade and have never had a cheque book here. They don't use them in Belgium. I pay by plastic and internet. I've even digital "cash" on my debit card (Proton)to pay for low cost items like newspapers.
Jennifer O Neill, Brussels

This could mark the start of the cashless society. The government has been waiting for this so that every part of your financial dealings can be audited and scrutinised.

Later of course when cash and cheques are removed will come the regulations and intrusions into every part of your life. For those of you who say I have nothing to hide - well you haven't thought long and hard enough as to how your life - cradle to grave - will be controlled.
Harry Soloman, Edinburgh

Belgium scrapped cheques over 5 years ago, all banks have a terminal at which you can pay all your bills directly if you don't bank on-line. Much better and safer. Only one thing to flag up though and that is how bank accounts for charities and societies that require two signatures on cheques are going to cope. I'm sure they have solved that one too on the continent....
Peter Walley, Lichfield

My father, who died a couple of years ago, at 102 never ever owned a credit card or a bankers card. Although, not a poor man, he would never have considered using anything but a cheque book. The very idea of him at that age to have to make a phone call or contact a bank or worse "go on line" is preposterous.

I would be very upset to see the demise of the cheque. Sending a niece or nephew a present when you are at a loss to know what to buy them a cheque for £25 does the trick. How would you be able to do something like that without a cheque book?
Hilary Greene, London, Great Britain

I carry an "emergency cheque" in my wallet. I have only used it about twice in 20 years, but want the option to do so.
Dave, Bournemouth UK

Here in Germany all payment to trades people are done by bank transfer.

When you get the invoice (which has the bank details and reference on it) you take it to your bank and fill out a form with the details. The trouble with the British BACS system is there is no provision for including the reference or any other information in the transfer - this needs to be sorted out otherwise there is no way to find out what the money is for! The same is true for mail order (either pre or post payment).

By the way I run a small mail order business here and do not have any problems with this system - it even works across the whole Eurozone!
W. Henshaw, Germany

Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Phone number (optional):

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Ajibola Lewis (right) with her daughter Police custody 'scandal'
A charity calls for a public inquiry into the number of people who die while being held by police.

Christmas tree Mass Observing the season
The spirits of Christmases past, as seen by the British people

Children selling low-value goods at the roadside are a familiar sight in Liberia Catch-22
Evan Davis examines Liberia's attempt to rebuild its economy following the recent civil war.



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific