Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Not yet time to write off UAE cheque payments

Cheques are 'still a fundamental thing for people' in the UAE but their use is diminishing Pexels/Cottonbro Studio
Cheques are 'still a fundamental thing for people' in the UAE but their use is diminishing
  • UAE cheque use is dropping
  • ‘Legacy’ method in some sectors
  • 99% of payments are digital

Cheque books are on their way out in the UAE, but experts have said there is still some way to go before they are signed off for good.

The number of cheques cleared through the country’s banks has fallen from 26 million in 2019 to just over 20 million for the first 11 months of 2023, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of the UAE.

“It’s dropping off, but we’re in the tail,” Joel Van Dusen, group head of corporate and investment banking at Mashreq Bank, told AGBI.

The UAE is in the middle of its National Payments Systems Strategy rollout, to improve payment infrastructure and encourage the adoption of electronic methods, including e-cheques.

It forms part of wider plans to shift to a paperless economy, promoting digital payments and reducing physical currency and cheque usage.

Australia announced last year that it plans to end the use of cheques by 2030 as part of reforms to drive digitalisation.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, meanwhile, declared that all corporate cheques will be eliminated by the end of 2025, although individuals will still be able to use cheques for a period after next year.

In the UAE, Van Dusen said, around 99 percent of payments by companies with Mashreq were made digitally.

However, he said that cheques remained a legacy payment method in certain sectors in the UAE, particularly education providers and the real estate industry.

Mashreq is working with the Dubai Land Department to introduce more digitalisation into the process.

“It’s still such a fundamental thing for people,” Van Dusen said. “You could do maybe automated debits instead of post-dated cheques so it will happen; it’s just going to take time.”

Almost 90 percent of consumers in the UAE used at least one emerging payment in 2022 – such as “wearables”, biometrics, digital wallets and currencies, and QR codes – according to the New Payments Index from Mastercard.

“In my experience, demand for cheques is often borne out of habit,” said Ranojoy K Dutta, head of transactional banking, UAE at HSBC Bank Middle East. “But we know that when customers are offered digital solutions that consider all their needs and their ways of doing business, the transition away from paper processes can be pleasantly straightforward.”

Latest articles

Flooding in Dubai affected many people's homes. Emaar has promised .free repairs for its residents, and an upgraded sewerage system is planned

Emaar promises free repairs as Dubai launches sewerage system

Emaar Properties is offering free repairs to residents whose homes were damaged during this week’s extreme flooding, as Dubai also announced an AED80 billion ($22 billion) sewerage system. The developer announced on Friday that it would repair all homes in its communities affected by the historic levels of rain, “at no cost to residents”. Emaar’s […]

Construction work in Kuwait. Nurseries, schools and shops are being built for the new residential district of Al Metlaa

Kuwait signs $140m contracts for Al Metlaa development

Kuwait’s Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) has signed two contracts worth KD42 million ($140 million) to construct public buildings in Al Metlaa, a new residential district north of Kuwait City. Nurseries, stores, schools and shops will be included, state news agency Kuna reported. Electricity connections have been provided for 109 buildings in the district, […]

Iraq gas oil

Iraq to auction 30 oil and gas projects this month

Iraq will auction 30 new oil and gas projects in two licensing rounds before the end of April. The bidding round will be held on April 27, Reuters reported, citing an oil ministry statement. Last October Iraq passed a long-awaited oil and gas law, which will help the country attract more international investments into the hydrocarbon industry and boost government revenues.  Ali Metwally, an […]

Workers at Cano Limon oil field in eastern Colombia. Oil is one of the country's largest exports

UAE strikes Colombia deal to strengthen Latin American links

The UAE has strengthened trade relations with Latin America after signing a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Colombia, just days after a Cepa deal was struck with Costa Rica. Officials from the UAE and Colombia put pen to paper on an agreement that will cut tariffs and remove trade barriers between the two countries. UAE […]