While cheques are already a thing of the past in many countries, if you live in France you might have had to give in and ask your bank for a cheque book. From rural shops to tradesmen, landlords to universities, there are still many people and organisations in France who prefer to be paid by cheque.
However, their numbers are dwindling year on year. In 2020, only 5 percent of non-cash payments were made by cheque (1.2 billion), according to the latest report from the Banque de France.
That is a dramatic fall off from 2000, when cheques represented 34 percent of non-cash transacations. The number of cheque payments was three times larger at the start of the century.
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Value of transactions (not including bank transfers) since 2016, in billions of euros.
“It is expected that the Covid-19 health crisis will put people off this payment method even more permanently,” the report stated. In 2020, cheque transactions fell by 26 percent, and lost 25 percent of their value.
However, French people are not ready to say goodbye to their cheque books just yet. In total €614 billion was exchanged this way in 2020, making it the third most popular non-cash payment method, behind bank transfers and direct debits, but ahead of card payments.
“Even if it’s becoming more and more rare, the cheque is still associated with larger transactions, because the average amount per cheque was €522 in 2020,” the report added.
More than eight out of ten French people own a chequebook, making France a European anomaly. According to a 2020 report from the European Central Bank, only 27 percent of people had access to cheques across the eurozone as a whole.
As well as the health crisis, the relative decline in the popularity of cheques can partly be explained by security concerns. In 2020, cheques represented 42 percent of all fraud cases, the most of any non-cash payment method.
In 2020, contactless payment became the most popular method at the point of sale in France, following the increase in the maximum payment from €30 to €50.