New research suggests businesses are reducing their use of cheques more quickly than consumers who are expected to write more than 60 million cheques this year, despite plans to consign them to the history books.

Ireland is one of only six European Union member states that still use cheques for regular payments.

Two-thirds of all business cheques issued are for €1,000 or less, while 41% of cheques issued by consumers are for €100 or less.

The public sector issues 11% of cheques, the vast majority of which are for social welfare payments.

As part of the move away from cheques, from 19 September public sector bodies will no longer issue or accept cheques in their dealings with businesses.

The findings are in a Central Bank analysis of cheque usage in Ireland published today, which follows on from its initial survey in 2012.

Ireland's cheque usage has been steadily declining from a peak of 132 million in 2005, with a figure of 61 million projected in 2014. 

Irish people currently write about 17 cheques a year - twice the EU average. Consumers in 20 EU member states write two cheques or less every year.

The Programme Manager of the Central Bank's National Payments Programme, Ronnie O'Toole, said that while businesses, small businesses in particular, remain the largest user group of cheques, it is clear that businesses are recognising the benefits of electronic payments and are now leading the migration away from cheque usage.

The National Payments Plan is targeting a significant reduction in cheque usage from present levels. Day, which falls on 19 September, is the date from which public sector bodies will no longer use cheques in their dealings with businesses.