Tuesday, February 05 11:14:06
Ireland is the second biggest user of cheques in the EU after France, according to research from the Central Bank today.
It found that cheque usage in Ireland by business is widespread, despite the fact that businesses in most other European countries no longer use cheques at all.
Businesses issue 44pc of all cheques in Ireland which, in 2011, equated to about 37 million cheques. Nine out of every ten are issued by SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises).
The majority (57pc) of cheques issued by businesses are payable to other businesses which equates to more than 21 million cheques per annum.
Consumers account for more than one third of all cheques issued, equivalent to nearly 30 million in 2011. The majority of these (56pc) are payable to businesses, primarily to SMEs. Just over one third of all cheques (34pc) issued by consumers are payable to other consumers. Separate research shows that cheque usage among consumers is dominated by the elderly and the farming sector.
Ronnie O'Toole, Programme Manager of the National Payments Programme, said cheque usage in Ireland is still widespread by both consumers and business in comparison to other European countries.
"In particular there is a strong case for businesses to review how they make payments. Although the level of usage has fallen in recent years our survey shows that business still accounts for a significant portion of cheques.. An ECB study estimates that a cheque costs around E3.55 when all costs are included. 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."