Checks set to check out

UK banks are to vote today on whether to withdraw checking accounts and to force customers to use electronic payments or plastic instead.

For over 300 years, Brits have been paying by check and claiming they’re in the post. Honest. But now the banks look almost certain to end that noble tradition in a bid to save money. The banks reckon it costs them £1 to process each paper payment and many major stores have already withdrawn the facility for customers to pay by check.

Back in 2000, the average British person was writing almost 50 checks a year, but that number has declined dramatically, falling last year to just 14, accounting for only four percent of all transactions.

Should the vote go as expected, the last check will be processed in the UK in 2018.

“Mapping out how the UK might move to a society where, by 2018, there is no need to use a cheque for any type of payment is no small task,” says Payment Council spokesperson Sandra Quinn.

“Even if the board decides to set a target date, we are clear that we would need to continue to engage with as many other bodies as possible to understand their concerns and requirements. The demise of the cheque in 2018 is only feasible if interim targets are set and met and it can be demonstrated that no one will lose out.”

The Payment Council says that most under 30s hardly ever use cheques and that under 20s have never heard of them.