Final cheque phase-out could hit seniors hard

The final closure of all cheque books as a method of payment is expected to disproportionately affect the elderly, disabled people and the charities that they support, according to one such charity, Stroke Central NZ.

From July 1, most banks will no longer accept cheques as a method of making or receiving payments.

It is a change that Stroke Central NZ is calling The Big Bounce.

Stroke Central NZ’s chief executive, Lee Pownall, says access to online banking can be a challenge for many people with disabilities, including those who have had strokes.

“It is going to affect us massively as a medium-sized charity, as our main clients and supporters are over the age of 65, due to the nature of strokes,” he says.

“Eighty percent of our donations and membership payments come in via cheques and many of our clients don’t use online banking at present. This could have a massive impact on our charity and no doubt many other organisations with similar clients will also suffer as a consequence.”

The phasing out of cheques by NZ banks began two years ago, along with many companies ceasing to accept cheques as payment. This is forcing cheque users to transition to other banking methods, such as online banking.

Stroke Central NZ president Grace Moulton says banks need to understand that elderly people are not always internet savvy and if cheques are no longer acceptable, banks should offer alternatives to assist those senior customers.

“A large factor to consider is that as we age, we are often less mobile and more likely to suffer with medical conditions, which can prevent us from taking on and accessing new systems,” she says.

“It is very likely that some elderly and/or disabled people in NZ will be left out as of July 1 if they have not received enough support to ease their transition from cheques to other banking methods.”

She says the impact on charities who are dependent on donations and membership payments remains to be seen, but is cause for concern.

Stroke Central NZ is a not-for-profit organisation, which supports stroke survivors and their carers.


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