Are you offering your clients a bill payment method that is in ‘terminal decline’? That is how the board of the UK Payments Council this week described cheque transactions. No, I’d never heard of the UK Payments Council either, but apparently they can dictate how we pay for stuff and they have decreed that cheques should be no more after 2018.

The first cheque was written 350 years ago and, even though there might be some firms still around that were using the then state-of-the-art cheque technology back in the 17th century, that’s no excuse for any of us still to be offering this paper and post process as virtually the only way for clients to pay our bills. I’ll wager a wad of counterfoils, though, that there is still a great deal of this going on.

Not only must this seem archaic to clients who in their dealings with the rest of the world never have to think of digging out a chequebook, but it’s pretty inconvenient too. It’s far easier to pay online, either through the client’s own bank account or via the firm’s website (which weren’t around in the 1600s either).

Stepping away from online payments, many firms make even payment by credit card unattractive by insisting on levying an additional charge to cover the credit company’s commission. I don’t say that this doesn’t happen in any other commercial enterprise, but mostly folks are used to paying by card without any extras on top and frankly it looks a bit mean to be charged for the privilege of doing so.

Even out of self interest firms should be making it as easy as possible for clients to pay their bills, so that any loss made on credit company commission payments is offset by less bank borrowing to pay salaries and other overheads while waiting for costs to be paid.

In 1990, 10.9 million cheques were processed a day. Last year the number had dropped to 3.8 million and, if current trends continue, the figure will be 1.5 million by 2018. Don’t be the last to give it up, and don’t wait until you have to – go on, make it easy for your clients, and for you.