British consumers' use of checks is on the decline and, over the last year, 61% of adults have admitted to no longer using checks to pay for regular monthly commitments, according to a survey by BACS Payments Schemes, the industry body behind the direct debit and BACS Direct Credit services.

The research revealed that, over the last 10 years, check usage has declined across virtually all regular household and individual commitments. This was not, however, limited to domestic use. According to the research, there has also been a decrease in the number of organizations using checks to make their own business-related payments.

BACS commented that, in the last two years, the number of business checks written for regular trade payments dropped by 6%, as did the use of checks for paying employee expenses. The body has predicted a further 6% decline in all business checks every year until 2015.

BACS went on to point out that large companies such as Boots and Tesco are responding to the shift in customer spending patterns by restricting the use and acceptance of checks at their stores. The industry body added that smaller, independent businesses ought to consider following suit.

Michael Chambers, managing director of BACS Payments Schemes, commented: During 2006, some British retailers stopped accepting checks and as some of the country’s largest corporates turn their back on the check, small-to-medium enterprises really ought to take note.

He added: Our research tells us that direct debit and BACS Direct Credit are now seen as the easier way to pay and receive money. By following suit and embracing automated payment methods for regular business transactions, British companies could reap significant rewards including strengthened business and employee relationships and importantly, increased cash flow control.