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Cheques: New Discussion on the End of Cheques

  • In France cheques are considered as efficient means to monitor expenses (for higher amounts transactions for instance) and still generally used. Yet, a recent report by Georges Pauget and Emmanuel Constans on the future of means of payments insists on the interest of credit transfers and digital transactions, described as secure and less expensive. The authors remind that 18.3% of all payments (excluding cash payments) have been made by cheque in 2010: representing over 3,000 million cheques for 1,828 billion euros (and 555 euros on average).
  • According to this report, guiding French customers towards credit transfers and digital transactions, should allow banks to avoid cheque and cash management costs. To this end, twenty proposals have been listed, including a 50% reduction of the number of cheques issued by 2017.
  • Banks are now confronted to the development of non-banking rivals: they should capitalise more on highlighting new technologies to benefit from the current payment revolution.
Source: Report “l’avenir des moyens de paiement en France”
  • Debates have then been reopened and a nationwide large-scale project, praising ease of use and security, to be concluded in 2016 should start this autumn.
  • Limiting cheque usage may favour the adoption of credit transfers by companies, administrations and by individual customers. Hence, according to this report, they should be talked into dropping this payment method. This limitation spreading until 2017 would imply a 10% yearly decrease (compared to 4-5% today). This study relies on a report issued in March 2011 by the French Financial Sector Advisory Committee (Comité consultatif du secteur financier – CCSF), which already recommended that credit transfers be preferred.
  • In addition to cheque usage, the report highlights the prevalence of card transactions: 43% of all operations (excluding cash, which –for their part– concern 55% of all transactions). They have also proposed that further focus be placed on the development of modern face-to-face means of payments, including cards, which have been witnessing a continuous progression.