Cheques are widely used by all major world economies and it’s not any different in Canada. However, there is a general shift from business cheques towards payments that are electronically based. The cheque payments decline varies from about 10 per cent in Sweden, UK, and Australia, to approximately 5% in the US, Canada, Italy and France.
For many countries, cheques remain the most common form of business financial transactions. Mobile based transactions are however becoming more popular and are rising fast.
The Decline of Cheques Usage in Canada
Problems like bouncing cheques and cheque frauds that were witnessed over the late 20th century in many parts of the world, and the time it required to clear cheques as well as the manual labour it entailed led to a drop in their popularity.
Over the recent years, the usage of business cheques as a system of payment has plummeted in Canada. New Canadian Payments Association (CPA) data shows changing transaction behaviours by businesses and consumers, and a payment system that’s in a state of transition. The report on Canadian Payment Methods and Trends is pointing to a growing electronic payments dependency and new channels of payment channels.
Blurry Distinction between Cheques and Electronic Payments
For banks and modern businesses, the very line of divide between cheques and electronic methods of payment has become very blurry. Today, cheques are being regularly scanned to gather the MICR information and then converted into an instant transaction through automated clearing houses.
New laws are being enacted enabling payments to be transacted using electronic cheques images. In the past, the physical cheque itself had to be present for clearing. Many industry observers are predicting that over the coming years, the traditional paper processing will gradually get phased out.
Growth of Cheque Scanning
Canadian banks are increasingly integrating into their systems, cheque scanning technology, and businesses too are getting on board by acquiring their own scanners. The modern cheque scanner has the potential of boosting productivity as it reduces the administrative input associated with having to manually get cheques processed. This is an emerging trend that is likely to be witnessed across the Canadian business sector over the coming years.
As technology continues to develop with more business functions and transactions being moved online, business cheques are quickly dropping in terms of popularity. However, it is important to note that the general trend towards fewer cheques doesn’t include everybody. Some businesses such as independent shops, sole traders, and schools are still accepting cheques as their preferred mode of payment. In Canada, for example, while the total written cheques volume continues declining, the actual value of cheques appears to grow slightly. For instance, there were 20% fewer written cheques in 2014 compared to 2011, yet the cheques value rose by 8%.