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Cheques in decline for ever, but will they never actually disappear?

In July 2011, the UK's Payment Council decided to abandon their plan to kill off the cheque. The Press Release announced that 'cheques will continue for as long as customers need them and the target for possible closure of the cheque clearing in 2018 has been cancelled'. It was not surprising given the outcry and the lack of viable alternatives for the many different users of cheques, such as: people who don't have and will never have a mobile phone, associations which have multiple signatories on each cheque, etc.

Following a year-long consultation with payment stakeholders, the Australian Payments Clearing Association (Apca) has just announced that it also sees no need to close the country's cheque clearing system. Although there has been a widespread decline in cheque use in Australia, with volumes dropping by 60% in the last decade and by a third in the past three years alone. Apca found a hard core five per cent of the Asutralian population to be reliant on cheques, comprising older Australians, those in rural and regional areas and industries such as real estate.

Just as in the UK, they are setting up a 'Milestones Project Steering Committee' in mid-2012 to monitor cheque decline and alternative electronic payment options.

 Alternatives such as the mobile phone payment systems, e.g. Barclays's Pingit, and many other technologies will need to be accepted and ubiquitous, before this hardcore 5% of users will not mind cheques being withdrawn. This is many years away, even in the UK and Australia, and as for North America consumers and businesses: dream on.

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Payments - Receipts
Lockbox Bill Collection
Payments - Receipts at POS
Cheque Payments at POS