The Payments Council has just announced that it will not phase out cheques by 2018, as planned, and that cheques will continue to exist so long as consumers need them.
This decision will be welcomed by many and comes after much lobbying by interested organisations. The issue for many was that the timetable for the abolition of cheques was announced before any suitable alternatives had been put in place. The elderly, people receiving benefits and charities were citied as the most likely to struggle if cheques were to be abolished.
A survey carried out in January by Which? revealed that 92% of people surveyed wanted to keep cheques. Another online survey carried out in 2010 found that 50% of those surveyed had written a cheque in the last month.
According to the Payments Council 65% of businesses have written at least one cheque in the past month with 76% having received a cheque in the past month.
So it now appears that cheques will remain with us for the foreseeable future.
It's not all good news though
However, it's not all good news as the cheque guarantee card system scheme ended on 30th June 2011. This alone may make retailers more reluctant to accept cheques and in fact a lot of major stores haven't accepted payments by cheque for some time. Today's news is unlikely to change that stance. The main reason that cheques have fallen out of favour is the cost of processing them. So while cheques have survived the chop I wouldn't be surprised if banks eventually start charging to process them.