Consumers in the United Kingdom wrote 711 million checks in 2008, down 47.3% from 2003, according to a report released last week by Cheque and Credit Clearing Co., a British trade group that manages the country's check-clearing system.

In 2008, adult consumers in the U.K. wrote an average of 14 checks a month and received five checks. In 2003, consumers wrote an average of 28 checks monthly and received seven.

"The decisions by many shops to stop accepting personal checks has been a major factor driving the fall" in check use, the group said. In 2008, checks "account for just one in 20 personal noncash transactions," down from nearly one in five in 1998.