I was only referring to being able to deposit Sterling cheques, which should be relatively straight-forward with the new image-based clearing system (no need for the piece of paper to leave the house). Even at a fee - I think it’s a service that’s needed as long as other banks are offering it, especially if Revolut wants people to make it their main account.
While cheques may be archaic, business and government (DVLA, HMRC, …) still issue them and often there is no alternative. I suspect that a small percentage of issued cheques never get cashed and that this is the reason why some institutions persist with them. I guess a direct transfer never gets lost and so they see it as a way of “saving money” in a slightly dishonest way (but who ever said that government was honest!).
While I agree with your assessment that cheques are rather archaic, there are nevertheless some uses for them that have no clear replacement. Examples are:
- grandma slipping a cheque in with the birthday card (I don’t see them slipping in hundreds in cash notes or doing an online transfer)
- large transactions, as it is a real pain to transfer (very) large amounts of money. It’s much easier to write 5 or 6 figures on a cheque.
- when doing their groceries etc, some older people with dementia/Alzheimers don’t have a chance in hell to pay with a card (they forget the PIN, block the card, etc) but placing a signature on a cheque is often still doable for them. In France you’ll see a lot of old people still paying this way (the till prints everything on the cheque, they just need to sign it). In the UK this usage has disappeared a long time ago with the cheque guarantee cards, as UK cheques can easily bounce.
- Cheques can be useful as a guarantee/deposit e.g. when renting something, especially between people rather than businesses, or when small operators are involved. Again I have seen this a fair bit in France (where cheques don’t normally bounce due to the consequences), I guess in the UK a cheque isn’t much of a guarantee of anything.
BTW the UK had initially planned to phase out cheques completely by 2018, but this was abandoned and now the statement is that cheques are here to stay indefinitely.
Anyway when you get a cheque you do need to cash it… particularly if there’s no alternative way to get the money. Unfortunately I still get more than a dozen cheques per year (I would much prefer to receive them by direct bank transfer, but alas, it’s not possible).