The humble cheque to be extinct by 2019

Alison Banney 1 February 2018

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Bank cheques are likely to completely disappear from circulation within just two years.

A real sign of the times, bank cheques are tipped to fall completely from circulation in Australia in two short years, according to a new analysis of RBA data by finder.com.au. The forecast comes from currency usage data of the humble cheque, which shows a steep decline over the past five years.

According to the RBA data, in January 2002 there were 45,900 customer cheques processed in Australia. This fell to just 6,549 in October 2017. These figures are not entirely surprising, especially considering a lot of people reading this have probably never even used a cheque themselves, and some might not even be familiar with what it is. To be honest, I don't think I've ever used one, I've just never had the need to.

Based on this harsh decline, finder.com.au forecasts there will be less than 3,000 of these endangered cheques processed in December 2018, dropping down to zero come Christmas time next year. The following graph shows this slow and steady death of a once widely-used banking item.

cheques snip

It's not just cheques which are on the way out, but our notes and coins are predicted to become extinct within the next five years also. According to research by market analyst East & Partners, cash made up just 10% of all payments made to Australian merchants as of April 2017. In comparison, debit card payments increased by 56% between 2010 and 2016. If this trend continues, cash payments are predicted to fall below 2% by the year 2022, rendering Australia a virtually cashless society.

So what will we use instead? Well, there's proving to be no limit as to what we can use to make purchases. Visa's WaveShades allow consumers to make payments with their sunglasses, there's the Inamo Curl that you can slide into a rubber wristband or attach to your clothing, Westpac's waterproof, stylish wearable payment wristband and even Bankwest's new Halo ring which allows customers to simply fist bump the EFTPOS terminal.

With all these fancy new contactless payment technologies at our fingertips, I don't think the bank cheque will be too greatly missed.

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