Reality cheque

April 2020 - Technology

With more and more of us owning smartphones, sending payment for goods or services has never been easier; the money will make its way to the recipient within minutes and just a few ‘taps’. So is it really any wonder that cheque payments are on a downward spiral?
Cheques cashed in the UK:

  • 1990: 4 billion
  • 2008: 1.4 billion
  • 2015: 558 million
  • 2016: 477 million
  • 2025 forecast: 237 million

Cheque use in 2015

  • Across the UK 558 million cheques were used for payments and to acquire cash
  • On average, 1.5 million cheques were cleared each day with an average daily value of around £1.7 billion
  • Two out of three businesses believed they would encounter problems if there were not the facilities to write cheques
  • Almost 60% of UK businesses said they had received payments by cheque in the past month

The above figures were taken from the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) – who also have a helpful cheque checker that you can check your cheques with (perhaps whilst pondering how much wood would a woodchuck chuck).

“Please note that we no longer accept cheques as a means of payment”


Age Concern, among other charities, has protested against the phasing out of cheques, pointing out that many people aren’t comfortable with the technology needed for digital payments. They argue that paper-based forms of payment should not be eradicated until suitable alternatives can be agreed on by people of all ages.

It would seem the Government agrees with this, as it has since publicly stated that cheques can only start to be phased out if sufficient alternatives are in place. They also acknowledged that cheques are still used extensively by tradesmen, schools, charities, and small businesses.

From this October the cheque clearing system will be changing, meaning that by the end of 2018 cheques should clear by the end of the next working day. Currently, cheques can take up to six working days to clear, so this is a hugely positive step forward. Banks and building societies are working on image technology which would mean cheques could be scanned using a smartphone or tablet and your money could clear without you having to even visit a branch. Of course, people who do not wish to use this technology would still be able to bank their cheques the current way.

Cyber fraud is something that people are increasingly wary of, and a lot of people don’t see what’s wrong with just popping a good, ‘old-fashioned’ cheque in the post. It’s what they’ve always done and they have no intention of changing. Refusing cheques means you are alienating this population, which could prove costly to your business.

Reader Offers have been a core part of JEM Marketing & Fulfilment Services Ltd. for over 30 years. When placing adverts in the national press we offer a few different ways to pay: online, over the phone, or by post. You’ll have seen order forms with ‘I enclose a cheque for £…’ on them, and rest assured if a customer decides to go down this route we will dutifully fill out the slip and drop the cheque off at the bank.

As well as dealing with B2C and B2B, we also work with charities and a lot of their funds come from cheque donations. Fiona Gledhill, Project Manager from the C&CCC says that their market research found that 86% of charities say that cheques are important to them and they wrote and received them on a regular basis.

Fortunately, whether they’re taken to the bank or soon-to-be scanned using an app, it looks as though cheques are here to stay.


16th February 1659

The earliest example of a handwritten cheque known to be in existence in the UK.  It was drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton, scriveners and bankers based in the City of London, for £400 (around £80,000 today) made payable to a Mr Delboe and signed by Nicholas Vanacker.


3rd August 2017 – Lucinda