Finance

Why are cheques – yes, cheques – still so popular?

By Oliver Smith 2 September 2016
Summary

One in three Brits are STILL scribbling numbers on pieces of paper.

It’s 2016, but nearly 1 in 3 people are still using paper cheques on a regular basis.

It sounds bonkers,in our world of contactless cards, mobile payments and digital banking, that cheques, which have roots as far back as the Romans, are still so popular.

Indeed the number of Brits using cheques is falling, the number of us using the paper payment method in the last three months has fallen to just 31% today, down from 40% in 2015.

But, according to a study from market research group Mintel, cheques are stubbornly refusing to die.

“People’s payment habits change slowly, as can be seen with the cheque’s stubborn refusal to disappear from the payments landscape,” said Mintel’s financial services analyst Rich Shepherd.

We’re just unwilling to completely give up on paper payments.

Read more: Banks are obsessed with selfie payments

Going contactless

While cheques are dying, contactless payments are thriving.

Since arriving in 2007 contactless has boomed to between 39% (debit cards) and 34% (credit cards) of Brits using contactless cards regularly.

Read more: Contactless payments in Britain are booming

And while mobile payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay are still relatively new, Mintel says the signs are already looking good.

“The recent growth of contactless card usage and the widespread availability of contactless terminals mean that mobile payments should face less resistance from consumers than contactless cards did,” says Shepherd.

“However, the fact that contactless payments took nearly a decade to become a mainstream payment method suggests that mobile services will go through a similarly extended journey to widespread use.”

At least by then cheques will finally be dead and buried. We hope.