Thursday, 29 April 2010

Britain will become no country for old men who still write cheques

Old Brits beware, be forewarned and arm yourselves with a chip or a mobile phone :

your cheques are to be phased out in 2018. But don't worry, a Government Board called the 'Payments Council' has your interests in mind and it has said :

* there will be annual checks on the progress of other payments systems and a final review of the decision will be held in 2016.

* it is " especially concerned that the needs of elderly and vulnerable people are met."

* "The goal is to ensure that by 2018 there is no scenario where customers, individuals or businesses, still need to use a cheque."

* it accepted that cheques were still used for payments to sole traders, small businesses, clubs, charities and schools.

* it wants to find "easy-to-use efficient alternatives" to the cheque which are understood by everybody.

Britain's old men, you have a defender in Paul Smee the Chief Executive of the Council who has said :

"Customers are not likely to see any immediate change as the target date is still a long way off. There are many more efficient ways of making payments than by paper in the 21st century, and the time is ripe for the economy as a whole to reap the benefits of its replacement. But the real challenge lies ahead if we are going to be comfortable to wave goodbye to the cheque, which undeniably occupies a unique place in British culture."

But, oh dear, Andrew Harrop, of 'Age Concern' and 'Help the Aged' has said :

"The Payments Council needs to urgently come up with some practical alternatives to replace cheques or it will be condemning thousands of older people to extra worry, cost and financial insecurity."

And Dot Gibson, of the 'National Pensioners Convention', said: "This is such a selfish decision, made by people who are clearly out of touch with the way millions of older pensioners manage their affairs."

Facts :

* many stores,including all the major UK supermarket chains,have chosen to stop accepting cheques as shoppers turned to debit cards or stick with cash.
History :

* the first cheque was written 350 years ago and was made out for £400, signed by Nicholas Vanacker, made payable to a Mr Delboe, and drawn on 'Messrs Morris and Clayton', who were scriveners and bankers of the City of London.

* its predecessor was the ''bill of exchange', which was a way for traders to buy and sell goods without the need to carry gold and silver.

* in the early days, cheques were used infrequently and mainly by merchants and traders for high-value transactions.

* cheque payments reached a peak of 2.4 billion in 1990 and have since fallen steadily to 663,000,000 in 2008.

Alternatives :

Either, mobile phones :

Already used in Africa to make payments, the phone could apparently become a 'virtual wallet'.

Or, debit card readers :

These could be used by small businesses and banks and credit providers have been investing in chips which allow a customer to pay when the chip is pushed against a sensor. This is known as 'contactless technology'.

Phones and chips and all will be well.

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