Cheques

Cheque use is declining rapidly as Australia's digital economy takes hold.

In Australia, like in other countries, cheques are in long-term decline. Our lives are increasingly digital and as more services move online, consumers and businesses are moving away from cheques.
 
Cheque use in Australia has dropped by 77% over the last 10 years, and continues to drop by around 20% a year. Only small numbers of cheques are still used by certain sectors in the community.
 
We are tracking the decline of cheques through regular Milestones reports to ensure all Australians:
  • have access to electronic payments as cheques become scarcer and more difficult to use
  • can share in the benefits of the digit economy
We coordinate rules and arrangements for cheque clearing through the Australian Paper Clearing System. Through the APCS Management Committee, our work includes:
  • ensuring the operation of effective systems, policies and procedures for exchanging cheques between financial institutions
  • maintaining standards and specifications for the design and security of cheques

Cheque use plunged by 20% in 2016 alone - the largest drop ever recorded.

Tracking the decline of cheques
The rate at which Australian’s are moving away from cheques is accelerating as the digital economy takes hold. Cheque use plunged by 20% in 2016 alone - the largest drop ever recorded.
 
The decline in cheque use is a global trend, but the rate at which this is happening varies from country to country. Between 2011 and 2015, Australia’s drop in cheque use (-45.6%) exceeded that of most other similar countries including Canada (-25.6%), France (-24.6%) and the United Kingdom (-42.5%).
 
AusPayNet publishes Milestones reports twice-yearly to track the transition of paper payments to the digital economy. We are also supporting the Australian Payments Council’s work in this area.
 
Maintaining cheque standards
Working together with participants, equipment suppliers and the printing industry, we maintain standards to ensure the quality of cheque printing. These include technical specifications and guidelines to help designers, printers and businesses when producing custom designed cheques.
 
Cheque processing and clearing
The system continues to operate efficiently as cheque numbers decline. Industry-wide digital cheque clearing was introduced in 2015 to speed up the processing cycle. Cheque data and images are now exchanged between financial institutions electronically, with paper cheques destroyed shortly after settlement. Previously, cheque clearing involved a physical network of official exchanges across Australia, and long-term storage systems