e-payments could kill off the cheque by 2025

'It was internet banking in the study with the candlestick'

'It was internet banking in the study with the candlestick'

Cheques could soon be the financial world's equivalent of the penny-farthing, as debit cards, internet and phone banking continue to wipe out the need for paper money.

According to predictions from Halifax, cheques could go the way of dodo within the next 20 years as consumers and businesses now prefer electronic to physical payments.

Cheque use, the bank found, is now at its lowest ever point. In 2004, 2.1 billion cheques were issued, down seven per cent on the previous year.

Businesses' cheque use in particular has plummeted, as firms now almost exclusively prefer to pay their employees using electronic transfer systems such as Bacs. Around 90 per cent of UK workers are now paid in this way.

If the downward trend continues, cheques could be dead by 2025, according to Halifax.

Banknotes are also falling victim to the rise in internet, telephone and electronic payments. Between February 2001 and 2005, the Bank of England cut the number of banknotes issued by 25 per cent, from 982 million to 735 million.