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Industry

The fate of cheques: hanging in the balance?

Strike action at communications agency Communisis has raised questions about the need of chequebooks in today’s digital world.

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The use of chequebooks has been declining since 1990 when four billion transactions were made

The strike was put on hold yesterday as Communisis agreed to enter discussions with members of trade union Unite. Members had overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action following a disagreement over pay.

Communisis, based in Leeds, is the UK’s largest printer of chequebooks and has been printing the nation’s chequebooks for over 100 years. The supply of chequebooks to UK banks could hang in the balance if strike action were to go ahead.

According to the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC), 405m cheques were used for payments and to acquire cash across the UK in 2017. The use of cheques has almost disappeared in other European countries like Germany and Austria and whilst bank-to-bank transfers are more common, cheques are still frequently used in the UK. The C&CCC also found that nine in ten charities and three quarters of UK businesses received or made payments by cheque over a monthly period.

With the phase-out of car tax discs and more consumers opting for electronic billing rather than posted letters, the nation could be moving further away from the use of printed products

So, does the printed cheque still serve a purpose? With the phase-out of car tax discs and more consumers opting for electronic billing rather than posted letters, the nation could be moving further away from the use of printed products.

Perhaps the greatest downside to cheques is the time they take to be processed. However, it does remain a popular way of transferring funds, particularly for large corporations and older generations who tend to avoid online banking. Online banking is more accessible now than ever with mobile banking and the ability to transfer money with just a Wi-Fi connection.

Despite the decrease in usage, The Payments Council announced in 2011 that cheques would not be phased out and will continue for as long as customers have a need for them. To bring this old method of banking into the modern day, some banks have trialled a system where by customers can take photographs of cheques and submit them via a secure smartphone app.

With the introduction of contactless cards and the storage of banking information on smartphones, many still have worries about the security of these new methods and still look to cheques to make transfers.

Do you still use chequebooks? Let me know at summer@linkpublishing.co.uk or reach out on Twitter and have your say.


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