Since the Payments Council announced the death of the cheque book and cheque guarantee card in 2009 claiming their use was in ‘terminal decline’ consumers faced a future of more limited payment options.
This had the potential of adversely affecting many, especially the elderly. The move to abolish cheques and the associated guarantee cards had been slammed by consumer rights groups but the payments council soldiered on regardless in the industry’s drive towards a more cashless society.
Their first move was to abolish the cheque guarantee card earlier this year on 1st July as a precursor to getting rid of the cheque book by October 2018.
But it looks like the cavalry has arrived in the nick of time in the form of the parliamentary treasury select committee. After the initial payment council announcement the select committee said it would look at the payment council and its decision making processes to see if it was properly accountable for these types of decisions.
The committee has now said that it was wrong for the payments council to announce the abolition of cheques and that it should consider re-introducing the cheque guarantee card. The payments council has already walked back on cheque books anticipating this.
The payments council says that it is ‘…the organisation that sets the strategy for UK payments. It was set up by the payments industry in 2007 to ensure that UK payment systems and services meet the need of payment service providers, users and the wider economy.’
But the treasury select committee chairman, Andrew Tyrie, would beg to differ. He has now called for the payments council to be regulated and set up to more reflect the views of the consumer as it is too geared towards the industry at present.
He has also said that banks should write to their customers to tell them that the cheque book is not dead.
"Cheques have been saved, for the moment, but we need to remain vigilant. The incentives for the industry to get rid of cheques has not gone away. Neither have we.” Said Mr Tyrie.
"The Payments Council is an industry dominated body with no effective public accountability. Its decision caused great and unnecessary concern among bank customers. And during the course of the Treasury committee's inquiry it became clear that the Council's plans did not have the confidence or support of the public, parliament or the government."