This week banks in the UK announced new image-based processing of cheques. For the writers of the 477 million cheques (down by almost 90% from its peak) this is good news, as the cheques will clear in 24 hours rather than six days. However, we suspect that this is the death knell for cheques written on strange objects - a sad day!
Cheques can be written on anything portable, so writing one on a cliff face or building would not work, but that seems to be the only restriction. Those enormous cheques presented to lottery or pools winners would work, but the money is almost certainly transferred electronically.
The most famous of the odd objects is the farmer who presented a cheque written on the side of a cow. This made its way into an old edition of the Guinness Book of Records. There are lots of stories surrounding this, as the tale seems to have grown in the telling. It would be wonderful if the bank did have to buy the cow in order to process the payment, or that the cow got stuck in a lift (or was it too big for a lift, or was that a horse in another story entirely), but we somehow doubt it.
There is also the BT customer who made a payment on an A3-sized cheque, which BT didn't process. And a cheque that was made out on toilet paper, thankfully unused.
If anyone else has some strange cheque stories we would love to hear them.
Feel free to comment.