The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Payments Council today launched a series of 10 regional workshops to consult with local small and medium-sized businesses on the target date to replace cheques by 2018. Many businesses still make and receive cheque payments, so the BCC and Payments Council are holding the workshops to help support local firms.

The Payments Council has set a target date of 2018 to close the UK’s central cheque processing system. Cheque use has been declining since 1990 and, in the past five years, this has gathered pace. By managing this ongoing decline, the Payments Council hopes to prevent consumers and businesses being disadvantaged by any further fall in cheque acceptability or availability. However, a decision to go ahead with 2018 will only be taken in 2016 if acceptable cheque alternatives are in place, and are actually being used.

 

As part of this, the Payments Council is continuing its consultation with consumers and businesses to ensure their needs are taken on board when developing alternatives.

 

Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

 

“The ability to collect payments from customers and pay bills and invoices is critical to the success of any business. Many smaller businesses still rely heavily on cheques, so we’re working with the Payments Council to help them understand the effect that the proposals to end cheques will have on businesses. During these workshops we’ll not only offer companies advice, but more importantly gain vital insight into the kinds of payment systems these businesses need.”

 

Paul Smee, Chief Executive at the Payments Council, said:

 

“About half of all cheques in the UK are used by businesses, so we are delighted that the BCC is helping us reach out to local businesses. We are well aware of how important it is that their needs are heard and understood. Cheque alternatives for small businesses will depend on the type of payment. Many different options already exist, but may need adapting, explaining or making more widely available. Existing alternatives include debit cards, internet and phone banking payments. For some, using cheques is a matter of habit and we will be looking at how we can encourage the businesses we meet to use more efficient and secure alternatives.”

 

The dates of the workshops are:

 

·         17 Feb:       Fontwell, West Sussex

·         3 Mar:         Worcester

·         30 Mar:       Cardiff

·         6 Apr:         Belfast

·         12 Apr:       Edinburgh

·         12 May:      Manchester

·         24 May:      London

·         9 June:       Bradford

·         14 Jun:       Suffolk

·         22 Jun:       Portsmouth