Westpac NZ sets timeline to go cheque-free

Cheque Use phase out Westpac NZ

Westpac New Zealand has announced its phase-out timeline for accepting and processing cheques, with June 2021 its final cut-off month cheque users.

From 25 June next year, Westpac NZ will no longer accept cheques for cashing out or depositing, while cheques issued by the bank will no longer be accepted for depositing at any other institution.

Westpac NZ will also stop issuing new bank cheques after the 26 March 2021.

The rapid decline in cheque use – which today represents fewer than 1 per cent of payments, according to Westpac NZ consumer banking and wealth head, Gina Dellabarca – has rendered their continued issuance and use impractical for most banks, and indeed customers who now mostly rely on faster and more efficient digital payments.

“Cheques have a long and proud legacy; however, the speed, safety, and ease of digital payments has changed the way people bank,” Dellabarca said.

“We’ve reached the point where it makes sense for us to focus our payment options on the future, not the past.”

Dellabarca said the bank will “step up [its] activities” to help transition cheque-using personal, business and Government customers to digital payments.

These include free face-to-face workshops and online seminars for seniors, “enhanced training” for 150 digital ambassadors to encourage community cheque use, and direct communications with customers.

Cheque use in New Zealand has been steadily declining over the last decade, with an extensive 2017 study by PaymentsNZ, the self-governing body for the country’s payments sector, finding cheque use had halved between 2013 and 2016, from a monthly total of 4.4 million cheques to 2.24 million.

More recently, the payments body found that for every cheque written last year there were 169 electronic payments – an increase from 120 electronic payments in 2018.

The NAB-owned BNZ bank announced earlier this year that it would also no longer accept cheques as of July 2021.

Fellow big four ANZ said it would remove cheques as “a method to receive or make payments” after 31 May 2021.

Kiwibank ceased accepting cheques in February this year.