Announcing that the last cheque in
the UK would be cleared on 31 October 2018, Paul Smee, CEO of
bank-dominated body the Payments Council (PC), conceded the
challenge is to find a suitable alternative to a payments
instrument holding a “unique place in British culture”.
So unique, believe proponents of
the cheque, they have launched a campaign to rally support for the
it retention. The campaign is led by Mark Hunter, a Liberal
Democrats Party Member of Parliament (MP).
Now in its fifth month, the
campaign has already received the backing of 124 MPs from all
parties, the Federation of Small Businesses, consumer activist
group Which?, and many small businesses and charities,
Hunter said in a statement.
Opinions of both pro- and
anti-cheque groups received their first formal airing on 16 March
this year when a Treasury Select Committee held an official inquiry
into the decision to abolish cheques.
At the inquiry, chairman, Labour
and Co-operative MP John McFall, left no doubt about his view.
“Actually, I like my chequebook. I
have got it here,” said McFall. “I want the chequebook saved.”
Geoff Holland, CEO of the British
Cheque and Credit Association, questioned the PC’s credentials to
rule on the cheque’s future. He noted that of the 28 PC members,
eight represented banks offering current accounts with chequebooks.
Other members included PayPal, Cash-Zone, American Express and Bank
Machine, all of which, stressed Holland “have a commercial interest
in the demise of the cheque”.
Defending the PC, Smee explained
that the council has 11 bank directors and four independent
directors and the latter have the power to veto council resolutions
taken on the cheque’s demise.
Smee went on to say terminating the
use of cheques would by 2018 save businesses £750m ($1.17bn)
annually and banks £200m.
Unconvinced, McFall questioned
whether an acceptable analysis of the cost savings versus the
inconvenience caused by the demise of cheques had been
McFall exclaimed: “In fact, it
seems contrived, your approach.”
Smee agreed the PC will appoint
independent professionals to undertake a cost/benefit analysis and
report their findings to the Treasury Select Committee within an
unspecified number of months.
Unsurprisingly, Hunter hailed the inquiry as “a huge step
forward” in the battle to save the cheque from extinction in the