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Don’t write off cheques, financial experts say

Cheques may seem old-fashioned in a world besotted with electronic transactions, but is it time yet to write them off entirely?

Cheques are comparatively costly, take longer to process and are a good deal more bothersome than swiping a piece of plastic. Nevertheless, the paper payment system still has its uses, according to financial experts.

“I think the cheque’s future is downward, but it’s still going to be with us for a while,” said Christie Christelis, president of Technology Strategies International in Oakville, Ont.

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Over the last 15 years, the debit card has displaced the cheque almost completely in the retail sector, said Mr. Christelis, whose firm tracks the Canadian payments industry.

“I don’t know many stores that accept cheques these days. If you think about the consumer experience of writing a cheque, it’s time consuming,” he said.

The value of payments with personal cheques used by Canadian consumers is excepted to decline to $113-billion by 2014, down from $144-billion in 2009, said Mr. Christelis.

While it can be cheaper to use online or telebanking to pay bills, schools, summer camps and small businesses all still use cheques.

“It’s a very useful tool,” said small business owner Igor Romanov, who runs appliance repair business ARS International Inc. in Montreal.

“It’s less expensive for the customer and less problems for me,” he said. “I do trust my customers,” he added, noting he has had…

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