Towards a Digital Economy

Australian consumers are continuing to move away from cheques and cash in favour of cards and other electronic payments. 


6 March 2015


APCA releases new report on declining cheque use as payments transition to the digital economy 


The Milestones Report released today by the Australian Payments Clearing Association, the payments industry self-regulatory body, shows Australian consumers are continuing to move away from cheques and cash in favour of cards and other electronic payments.

Today’s Report shows that cheque use in Australia dropped 13.9 per cent in 2014 to 167 million. This compares to an 8.8 per cent increase in the use of payment cards and a 7.5 per cent increase in direct entry payments (direct debits and direct credits).

The Report also shows that consumers are using less cash. In 2014, the number of ATM cash withdrawals dropped by 4.8 per cent to 741 million and by 2.1 per cent in value to $143 billion.

Cheque use in Australia has been declining for over a decade. A comparison between the months of December 2002 and December 2014 shows a 71 per cent drop in cheque use.

Cheque values remain in flux suggesting that the majority of cheques still being used are for high value business transactions and for property settlement. In 2014, the value of cheques increased slightly by 0.7 per cent to $1,228 billion. This compares to a 6.2 per cent increase in the value of card payments and a 4.8 per cent increase in the value of direct entry payments.

APCA CEO Chris Hamilton said “These figures reflect the two sides of the cheques story. First, cheques are rapidly falling out of everyday use. Second, there are some specialised contexts – like real estate – which are more resilient. These are gradually being whittled away by more efficient automated solutions – like the new PEXA service. I am confident that as these solutions come on line we will see cheque values dropping at the same rate as cheque numbers.” 

Today’s Report also notes the work underway by the payments industry and government to ease the transition from cheques to digital payments including:

  • The introduction of electronic conveyancing for property settlement through the PEXA service.
  • The Government’s SuperStream initiative to improve the efficiency of the superannuation system.
  • The New Payments Platform, a major industry initiative to develop new infrastructure for fast, flexible data rich payments.
  • A comprehensive review by the Australian Payments Council which will look at legacy payments, innovation and technology. 

"If you still rely on your cheque book, I encourage you to look at the alternatives that are already widely available, cheap, and reliable,” said Mr Hamilton.

APCA releases Milestones Reports twice a year to review progress against the action plan it published in May 2012(2).



1. This is a re-issue of the media release issued on 5 March 2015. That release contained incorrect figures for the volume and value of direct entry payments. All other figures in that release were correct.
2. See “The Decline of Cheques: Building a Bridge to the Digital Economy” 

Media Contact: Ida Turner, APCA Communications Tel: (02) 9216 4817 Mob: 0409 716 556 

Australian Payments Clearing Association Limited ABN 12 055 136 519
Level 6, 14 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000 Telephone +61 2 9216 4888 Facsimile +61 2 9221 8057