Fined for using cheques

Is being charged a fee to use cheques a reasonable request, a logical deterrent, or a fine in disguise?

The Australian Payments Clearing Association’s (APCA) year-long review has shown that the use of cheques is dropping dramatically, and is being replaced by Eftpos, credit card, online banking and online payment services such as Paypal. It costs the bank less than half a cent to process an Eftpos payment and over $7 to process a cheque. So why has the Australian Payments Clearing Association decreed that we need to keep cheques around, at least for the foreseeable future?

It is because five per cent of the population would be in real strife without cheques. That five percent is made up of older people, rural dwellers and not-for-profit organisations. So, credit where credit is due: Thanks banks for not getting rid of a service people couldn’t live without. It’s very big of you. And I’m sure the money it cost to spend a year making the decision not to change anything will be coming out of your pocket and not mine, right?

What gets me is that the APCA chose to keep cheques for a very specific group of people. They didn’t choose to implement a system to help those people transition away from cheques, or a system to replace the unique qualities a cheque possesses, for example many not-for-profit organisations rely on a cheque being signed by two separate people as a way to manage funds.

Instead they are suggesting that it may be necessary to charge people to use cheques, due to the cost of processing them. But surely even they can see that the group of people for whom they kept cheques in the first place is also the group of people least able to afford extra processing fees? Doesn’t this completely undermine any pretence at caring for the community?

Perhaps instead of paying a group of people to spend a year producing this report the banks could have used that money to cover the suggested fees for using cheques. Or the banks could simply look at their profit margins and decide that they can afford to absorb the minimal costs associated with five per cent of the population using the occasional cheque.

More information
To find out more about the disappearance of the cheque read the news article Death to the cheque

Is being charged a fee to use cheques a reasonable request, a logical deterrent, or a fine in disguise?
Reasonable request
Logical deterrent
Fine in disguise

Have your say
Do you still use cheques? Are they outdated or do they still have their place in society? Comment below and tell us what you think.