Banks to vote on abolishing payment by cheque by 2018

BANKS are drawing up plans to abolish cheques and instead demand payment by plastic or electronic transfer.<br /><br />If the proposals are approved, cheques could disappear from as early as 2018.<br /><br />The Payments Council, a panel drawn from the major banks, will vote on December 16 on whether to stop accepting the 300-year-old method of payment.<br /><br />The move would save the banks hundreds of millions of pounds as cheques cost as much as &pound;1 to process. This is four times as much as electronic payments.<br /><br />But consumers groups and small businesses have attacked the plans and said cheques remain vital for many elderly, vulnerable and disabled people.<br /><br />Small traders are concerned about the expense of having to install a card-processing machine.<br /><br />Sandra Quinn, from the Payments Council, said cheques would not be abolished before suitable alternative measures were put in place.<br /><br />&ldquo;There are lots of groups that would be disadvantaged by this if it were to happen tomorrow, &ldquo; she said. &ldquo;Before it could happen there would need to be alternatives in place.&rdquo;<br /><br />The number of cheques written each day has fallen by two-thirds in the past 20 years to 3.8m a day.