The UK Payments Council has cancelled its target to close the cheque clearing system in 2018 and confirmed that the use of paper cheques will continue for as long as customers need them.
The Payments Council said it had reached its decision after consulting with over 600 businesses and customer groups and had prioritised the needs of older people, the voluntary sector and charities.
Whether a business will accept a payment by cheque is, however, still a concern for some elderly people. The UK’s cheque guarantee card scheme closed at the end of June, meaning that the payer’s bank will no longer guarantee to pay the value of the cheque. A business can still choose to accept payment by cheque, but takes a risk that the bank will not honour the amount of the cheque if the customer doesn’t have enough money in their bank account.
But the Payment Council’s decision to preserve cheques will be reassuring for many elderly people who have confidence in this method of payment and dislike or mistrust the use of cards or electronic payments.
For charities, the impact of ending cheque payments would have been considerable. A large proportion of donations are made by cheque and without any practical alternatives many charities would have seen a substantial drop in funding; some might have struggled to operate at all.