The British financial industry wants to eliminate paper checks by 2018.
The board of the U.K. Payments Council voted Wednesday to set Oct. 31, 2018, as the target date to end centralized check clearing. The strategy-setting council — which includes major British banks such as HSBC Bank PLC and Lloyds TSB Bank PLC, the British arms of U.S. companies including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Bank of England and eBay Inc's PayPal Inc. unit — cited the "long-term, terminal decline" of the paper payment instrument.
Check use has been declining in the United Kingdom since 1990 and has fallen by 40% in the past five years, the council said. It set a goal to ensure there is "no scenario where customers, individuals or businesses still need to use a check" by its target phaseout date.
The council said it would focus on the needs of elderly and vulnerable people, who may be less likely to use debit cards or online payments. It said it will conduct a review in 2016 before making a final decision.
Check use is also declining rapidly in the U.S., and though the Federal Reserve banks have eliminated all but one clearing facility, in Cleveland, there are no plans to do away with paper checks altogether.