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Irish people still love using cheques, says Central Bank

More than 84 million cheques were used in Ireland in one year, despite the shift away from cheque books.

Image: Cheque book via Shutterstock

IRISH PEOPLE STILL use cheques more often than almost every other country in the EU, according to new research from the Central Bank.

The study, which was the first major analysis of cheque usage in this country, found more than 84 million cheques were issued in one year, making Ireland second only to France when it comes to cheque usage.

Consumers issued 35 per cent of all cheques, with almost half being for €100 or less. The majority of these cheques were made out to businesses.

Businesses issued 44 per cent of all cheques, equating to around 37 million in total. SMEs accounted for 90 per cent of these cheques.

The public sector has moved away from issuing cheques in recent years, with social welfare payments from the Department of Social Protection account for the vast majority of the 8 million cheques issued in 2011.

Ronnie O’Toole, the programme manager for the National Payments Programme, said there were hidden costs associated with using cheques.

“An ECB study estimates that a cheque costs around €3.55 when all costs are included,” he said. “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 significant contributor to Ireland’s ‘late payment’ culture. Unless we move from the ‘cheque in the post’ culture, the problem of late payments will remain.

The Central Bank noted separate research which found that elderly people and farmers make up a significant proportion of cheque usage by consumers.

Read: Could Ireland ever become a totally cash-free country? >

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