Are cheques better? Is electronic money transfer better? Well it depends on what you mean by “better” and it depends upon what you are trying to do.There are still some reasons why cheques are better because they are more flexible, give you security and can be used in particular ways to suit special circumstances.
1. There are still commercial transactions that cannot be done by electronic means. While most Western businesses are set up for electronic transfer and we readily accept the “security” of such it is a different story in other nations. People are less trusting of new electronic money transfers and are less prepared – or indeed able – to accept them. And it is not just individuals but larger organizations – like churches – in these nations that also prefer to have cheques sent rather than money transfers. Try making a donation, or have someone do some ad hoc private family history research in your ancestors colony, and discover how electronic money transfers will do you no good whatsoever! They want bank cheques to named individuals!
2. Cheques have a built in “cooling off” period. A cheque can be canceled before any moneys change hands and so has a built in “cooling off” period. Suppose you send for a too good to be true offer from the Internet and decide to pay by cheque only to discover that the scheme was a fraud just hours after you posted the payment. Simply call the bank have have the cheque canceleld before any moneys change hand. If you’d paid by electronic funds transfer that money is gone – or a lot harder to get back. If you might need a cooling off period then think about a cheque.
3. Cheques can be sent blank and signed. Cheques are flexible and it is totally possible to leave a trusted spouse or family member with a signed blank cheque and have them complete the amount that is actually needed. This can be very handy if they are paying for a service on your behalf while you are away, or doing a chore for you before you have a quote for the expenses involved. Whether sick, on holiday or other you can have them take care of your business without having to guarantee that you will have access to computers and vendors details etc. for money transfers. Banks tend to limit the amount payable on personal cheques so you still have some protection in case your trusted other tries to deceive you.
4. Cheques can be used anywhere for donations. If you are in the habit of making donations cheques are very flexible and a lot safer than using money. Suppose you hear a stirring band playing in the shopping mall collecting money for Christmas charity. Simply get out your cheque book and write a cheque where you are. It is satisfying and rewarding to deposit a donation in a tin rather than have to slink off to the local Internet cafe, looking over your shoulder while you do an anonymous electronic transfer. Cheques are also useful to make donations in this way in churches and schools.
5. Cheques can be used when computers are down! The humble cheque still wins over electronic transfers when communication lines are down or power is off. You can write a cheque and finish your transaction while those waiting for electronic transfers are left waiting. Of course a computer and power will eventually be needed to process your cheque but it can get you out of a situation if you don’t have money and the power is off.
When you have some special situation or circumstance that does not fit the prevailing electronic funds transfer model of commerce then there is still a place for the cheque and still a place to say the cheque is better because of its “informal” flexibility, and the way it can be used to suit your situation.