The Payments Council said in explaining its decision,
"Cheque use is in long-term, terminal decline. The Payments Council was faced with the choice of either managing the decline to ensure that personal and business cheque users have alternatives easily available to them; or to stand back and let the decline take its course. It has decided that its active involvement can help prevent confusion and deliver cheque alternatives that are acceptable to cheque users. The Payments Council wants to ensure that consumers and businesses are not left high and dry when the closure of the clearing occurs."
Chief Executive of the Payments Council, Paul Smee, said, "There are many more efficient ways of making payments than by paper in the 21st century, and the time is ripe for the economy as a whole to reap the benefits of its replacement."
There is a full Payment Council report on what it sees as the future of the cheque here.
Some view the decision as encouraging the use of mobile phones as not only the next wallet but cheque book as well.