Using cheques to settle bills, from rents, utilities to big-ticket purchases remains popular in the UAE, but it looks like people have smartened up or gotten extra cautious when dealing with non-cash transactions.
The latest official data show that there have been fewer bad cheques intercepted in 2018 than in 2009, when many consumers and businesses around the world were not in the best of shape due to the global financial crisis.
According to the latest data from the UAE Central Bank, more than seven million cheques changed hands in various transactions in the UAE during the first three months of the year, and at least 310,000 of them bounced.
From January to March, the total amount of cheques that were returned stood at more than Dh15.7 billion. That’s a decline of -18.5 per cent from the same period in 2009 and -11.1 per cent from the same period last year.
In total, the UAE Clearing Cheque System handled 7.16 million cheques with a value of Dh351.1 billion during the three-month period, up by 29.7 per cent from the first quarter of 2009.
March saw the highest number and value of bounced cheques so far this year. The amount of bad cheques last month reached more than Dh5.5 billion, up by 16.3 per cent on the previous month and 4.5 per cent on January 2018.
Pursuant to a decision issued late last year, the use of bounced cheques is now punishable with a fine instead of jail time.
Bad cheques with a value of up to Dh50,000 can carry a penalty of Dh2,000 in fines, while higher amounts can hold an offender liable to pay Dh5,000 to Dh10,000.