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Plans to scrap cheques abandoned

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The UK Payments Council has confirmed it will not get rid of cheques as it had planned to in 2018.

Cheques will continue to be issued by banks “for as long as customers need them”, the UK Payments Council said.

“Listening to over 600 stakeholder groups, working with the banks and following our appearance before the Treasury Select Committee, we have concluded we should reassure customers that the cheque is staying,” says Richard North, chairman of the Payments Council.

“We will use what we’ve learnt to keep improving existing systems, as well as introducing innovation, so that customers benefit from 21st century ways to pay. Innovation must be at the heart of what we do.”

When the decision was made to scrap cheques, two years ago, small businesses reacted with fury, accusing the Payments Council of simply trying to cut costs (cheques are notably expensive to process), rather than keep customers’ best interests in mind.

The idea was to remove cheques by 2018, but only with an adequate replacement being in place by 2016. These plans were scuppered by financial crisis, however.

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, is in full agreement with the plans being scrapped.

“If there’s a continuing use of cheques in the next decade or two, then it’s incumbent on the banks to allow their use,” he says.

“From a business perspective, we’d like to see business owners adopt more manageable, more efficient and cost-effective payment processes, which can help with the financial control of their businesses.”

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