Monthly cheque usage has been steadily declining over the past 20 years, with some of the biggest decreases seen in recent years.1 Latest figures from the Reserve Bank of Australia show that cheque usage was down 17.8% for the year ended June 2022 and 18% down for the same period in 2021.2 With such a downward trend, does this mean a cheque-less society is on the horizon?

While cheques have not entirely disappeared, their decline in use is reflective of a societal shift away from the tradition of paper and towards the immediacy of technology. 

For some Australians, it’s hard to imagine a life without cheques. For others, they may have never used a cheque or owned a cheque book in their lifetime. In 1980, cheques accounted for 85% of the number of non-cash payments and almost all their value.3

Now, they account for just 0.2% of transactions4– a number that continues to decline year on year.  

Cheque usage in 2022

A recent RFI Global report5 revealed:

  • The likelihood to use cheques regularly increases with age  – consumers over 65+ are significantly more likely to have written 1–2 cheques over a six month period, when compared with those under 65.
  • 1 in 4 cheque users report using cheques due to personal preference.
  • Paying bills was listed as the main reason to write a cheque, followed by paying for items, paying for services, or giving a cheque as a gift.
  • Younger demographics were more likely to use mobile payments and buy now pay later services in a typical month rather than cheques.

Digital payments are on the rise

Several factors have contributed to the decline of cheques over the past few years. 

With the emergence of new payment technologies, Australians are shifting away from cash and cheques and increased their digital payments.

This trend was compounded by COVID-19, which accelerated consumers and businesses to work, socialise, and bank digitally. 

Through digital payment platforms, mobile wallets, and buy now pay later services, Australians are embracing new ways to make purchases and transfer funds between accounts.6

What’s next?

While cheques are still in use in Australia, usage has been declining at ~20-25% yearly since 2016, while digital transactions increase.7. Looking to other nations around the world, including neighbouring New Zealand, who became cheque-free in 2021, we can expect to see the trend of embracing a cheque-free economy to continue.

After seeing huge growth in new payment platform transactions over recent years, digital payment technologies are showing no signs of slowing down. 

As consumers continue to adopt quick and easy digital payment methods, banks will continue to find ways to meet their needs through safe and secure digital platforms.

CommBank customers can access a range of safe and secure digital banking tools through NetBank and the CommBank app. You can keep an eye on budgets with Spend Tracker and make and receive payments faster with a simple phone number through PayID.