The Payments Council has reassured voluntary sector organisations that cheques or a paper equivalent might be retained beyond 2018 if no suitable alternative is in place.
Central clearing for cheques is due to be abolished in October 2018, but Peter Finlayson, policy director at the Payments Council, told delegates at the Charity Finance Directors' Group annual conference in London that if no workable electronic alternative could be found, cheques would continue to be used.
"If we don't get an alternative that works remotely, we will continue with the cheque or an equivalent of the cheque," he said.
The council will not make a final decision until 2016 on whether to proceed with the planned abolition of the cheque.
Any alternative must work and be seen to work, said Finlayson, as well as being "fit for purpose" for all parts of the community.
Working with the charity sector was a top priority for the council because 63 per cent of all one-off donations were made by cheque, he said.
But he added that the abolition of the cheque could be beneficial to charities because alternative payment methods could lead to efficiency savings and a greater take-up of Gift Aid.