Irish remain big users of cheques

Irish consumers and businesses are still using cheques as well as credit cards

Irish consumers and businesses are still using cheques as well as credit cards


Ireland remains one of only a few European Union member states that still use cheques for regular payments, according to a new survey from the Central Bank, despite the high charges.

According to the analysis, Ireland ranks behind France as the second most intensive cheque user in the EU, with 20 of the 27 member states having effectively eliminated cheques. In these countries, usage is down to two or less cheques per person per year, while Ireland’s average is 19 cheques.

A study from the European Central Bank estimates that a cheque costs around €3.55 when all costs are included.

“For a small business this cost includes the 50c stamp duty on each cheque, bank charges and postal charges, not to mention the time it takes for staff to process cheque payments.
Further, there is strong evidence that cheque usage is a contributor to Ireland’s ‘late payment’ culture. Unless we move from the ‘cheque in the post’ culture, the problem of late payments will remain,” Ronnie O’Toole, programme manager of the National Payments Programme said.

For businesses, cheques remain a key payment tool, with Irish businesses issuing 44 per cent of all cheques in Ireland. In 2011, this equated to about 37 million cheques.

Nine out of every ten cheques are issued by SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), while the majority (57%) of cheques issued by businesses are payable to other businesses.

Consumers account for more than one third of all cheques issued, equivalent to nearly 30 million in 2011. The majority of these (56%) are payable to businesses, primarily to SMEs. Just over one third of all cheques (34%) issued by consumers are payable to other consumers. Separate research shows that cheque usage among consumers is dominated by the elderly and the farming sector.

While the level of usage has fallen in recent years, the survey nonetheless shows that business still accounts for a significant portion of cheques.

“Cheque usage in Ireland is still widespread by both consumers and business in comparison to other European countries. In particular there is a strong case for businesses to review how they make payments,” Mr O’Toole said.