The days of the chequebook could be numbered as consumers adopt alternative payment methods, bankers said this week, although a "cheque-less society" was still a long way off.
Cheque use by First National Bank (FNB) customers was declining by an average of 15% year on year as customers switched to alternative payment methods, CEO Michael Jordaan said.
SA’s banks have, and continue to invest in, point-of-sale, mobile and internet banking payment systems as part of strategies to reduce transaction costs and improve banking security.
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Debit orders for the payment of items such as mortgages, rentals, vehicle loans and even maintenance orders have also reduced the use of cheques and cash, bankers say.
Mr Jordaan said customers were restricting the use of chequebooks mostly to pay utility, municipal or tax bills.
He said the maximum amount that could be written on a cheque was expected to be cut from R5-million to just R500 000 from July, which would reduce the security risk associated with cheques.
Absa deputy CEO Louis von Zeuner said he also expected to see a decline in cheque use.
"We expect chequebook usage to continue the decline. This trend is set to continue and is helped along by regulation that puts maximum amounts to cheques that get issued," Mr von Zeuner said. "However, it will be a long while before we live in a ‘cheque-less’ society," he said.
Mr von Zeuner said Absa was intensifying efforts to encourage customers to discontinue cheque-books and use alternatives such as mobile and internet banking.
"At a corporate (and) large business level, the bulk of activity is indeed done through electronic banking," Mr von Zeuner said.
Banking services ombudsman Clive Pillay welcomed the reduction in the use of the chequebooks because it minimised incidences of cheque-related fraud.
He said cheque-related complaints had "all but disappeared". The eventual "demise" of cheques would be a relief for his office.