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The Decline Of Checks

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Tuesday May 15, 2012 )

“The check is in the mail”. The what is in the where? That old saying may not be around for much longer.

The use of checks (or as we call them out here in the colonies, cheques) is experiencing a rapid decline in Australia; thanks in part to the Internet. Cheques are also rarely used now in Europe, but it appears they still have some legs in North America.

I was looking at my current check book recently and it dawned on me I hadn’t written a check in years; prompting me to ask when checkbooks “expire” (they don’t it seems). Even the thought of ever writing a check again seems ridiculous and the past practice most odd; but still, I keep my checkbook just in case.

As recently as the 1990s, cheques were the main form of non-cash payments in Australia according to a recent report prepared by the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA)

In the last decade, cheque use has plummeted by almost 60% and the last three years has seen a decline of 33%. It’s not as though the financial institutions don’t offer them; it’s just that consumers and businesses here are increasingly opting for electronic payments.

The APCA says around 5% of Australians are still reliant on cheques – mainly older Aussies, those living in regional and rural areas and certain sectors such as real estate. I think the latter is getting the hang of the Interwebs thing though given my experience with a recent transaction compared to one 4 years ago; which was actually the last cheque I wrote.

Regardless, some will continue to be reliant on checks for a while yet. However, a word of warning to those folks:

“Users will also find it increasingly difficult to make or receive payments by cheque as cheque use declines generally”

The tables have certainly turned. It wasn’t so long ago in this country that it was an absolute PITA to find businesses that would accept Paypal!

A couple of other interesting points in the paper:

– Almost $US8 trillion annually is exchanged through e-commerce.

– In 2011, the Internet accounted for one-fifth of all GDP growth over the past five years in developed economies.

Repent and reject the paper-based payments, o check-reliant ones; for the end is nigh. Resistance is futile; all will be assimilated. This is not-negotiable.

Read more: The decline of cheques: Building a bridge to the digital economy. (PDF)


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