The number of business cheques written in Ireland has fallen by 21% since 2012.

New figures from the Central Bank's National Payments Plan show that about 39 million business cheques were written in the last year compared to 49.5 million two years ago.

The National Payments Plan said the number of personal cheques also fell - though at a slower rate of 13%. About 26.5 million personal cheques were written in 2012 compared to 23 million a year now.

Today's figures come just three months before e-Day, the date which general government, local authorities and state agencies stop issuing and accepting cheques from businesses.

The Central Bank's Ronnie O'Toole said that cheques are an expensive means of payment for business due to bank charges, stamp duty, postage, time spent making lodgements, unpaid cheques and the "cheque is in the post" culture of late payments.

"It shouldn't be surprising to learn that businesses are moving away from cheques at a faster rate than consumers," Mr O'Toole said.

The National Payments Plan estimates at savings of up to €1 billion a year could be made to the economy as Ireland moves away from cheques and cash in favour of electronic payments.

E-Day relates to business cheques only.