Australia Wants to End Check Payments by Decade’s End

The age of the paper check is coming to an end in Australia.

Amid a rapid shift to digital payments — the type of movement seen in a number of other countries — Australia aims to phase out the use of checks over the next few years, according to a government report published Wednesday (June 7).

“The Government will focus on removing legislative and other barriers that entrench payment by cheques as well as phasing out government cheque usage by the end of 2028, with the eventual wind-down of the cheques system in Australia by no later than 2030,” says the report, titled “A Strategic Plan for Australia’s Payment System.”

The report notes that check volumes have declined by nearly 90% over the past 10 years, with checks making up just 0.2% of Australia’s non-cash retail payments. Use of cash has fallen sharply as well, accounting for 17% of payments last year versus 27% in 2019.

“However, cash in circulation is rising, indicating Australians’ demand for cash for the purposes of storing value, potentially for uncertain circumstances, remains high,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the report notes that Australia’s payment system has become increasingly digitized thanks to “consumer preferences for frictionless transactions and evolving technology.”

Card-based payments account for around three-quarters of non-cash retail payments, with mobile wallets making up the remaining quarter. Online debit and credit payments have increased as well in the last decade, the report said, a trend that ramped up with COVID but has since continued.

A report Tuesday (June 7) by the British newspaper The Guardian quotes a speech due to be delivered Wednesday by Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers, in which he’ll argue that 98% of personal checks and 100% of checks used in institutional and commercial settings could be serviced via internet or mobile banking.

As noted here earlier this year, consumers have grown accustomed to seamless digital options while shopping, banking and carrying out other daily activities.

And while there is interest in digital payments across all age groups, it is younger consumers who show the most interest in this technology. One survey found that 38% of millennials reported making payments with mobile wallets in the prior month, versus 31% of Gen X and just 22% of baby boomers.

A recent “Eye on Payments” survey by PSCU showed similar findings, with 75% of younger millennials saying they used mobile wallets a few times a year. The survey also showed that 81% of Gen Z respondents used their phones to make payments or for banking, versus 54% of the entire population.

“This should come as no surprise, as younger generations are the most familiar with — and reliant on — new technology,” PYMNTS wrote.