Cheques decline as means of payment

ELOISE GIBSON
Last updated 11:27 03/12/2012

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Just seven per cent of cheque users rely on them as a major means of payment, says the body charged with phasing out the costly paper payment method.

The other 93 per cent use EFTPOS, credit cards and internet banking first, with cheques as a second or third payment option.

Payments NZ, the umbrella company overseeing New Zealand's payment systems, today released a report showing cheque use continues to fall as people embrace alternatives such as EFTPOS and online banking.

Since 2004, the number of cheques issued in New Zealand has declined by 10 per cent every year with 95 per cent of payments now made by other means, it said.

Chief executive Steve Nichols said cheque use was likely to keep falling naturally so Payments NZ's task was to help manage the decline - not to remove cheques.

In Britain, an attempt to place a deadline on cheques suffered a hasty demise after public opposition.

''The most interesting statistic from this report is that 93 per cent of the people who are still using cheques are only using them as a second or third alternative payment, meaning they are also using some other payment methods such as EFTPOS, credit cards, or internet banking. This means... most people are comfortable with other payment methods,'' said Nichols.

Nichols said Payments NZ and banks needed to think carefully about how to manage the demise of cheques to ensure the payments system kept operating smoothly.

Consumer lobby group Consumer NZ has previously urged the payments industry to make sure people who need to use cheques could keep doing so.

Results from research carried out in other parts of the world indicated some groups were likely to be affected if cheques become less common, especially elderly people, those living in rural areas, charities, some small businesses and government departments, Consumer has said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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