A new electronic system could save the once-threatened method of paying by cheque, its developers have said. Paper cheques fell out of favour with banks as they were costly to process and need to be stored afterwards, yet they remained popular with customers, particularly the elderly. Now a team of academics has developed a system which has the benefits of easy, electronic money transfer while preserving the physical attributes of something that is handed to the payee. The team from Newcastle, York and Northumbria Universities developed the system after speaking to a group of 80-year-olds from Tyneside. Their research is due to be presented at the Computer Supported Co-operative Work conference in Seattle, in the US. The new cheques look identical to traditional ones, save for the grey background on each one which is actually billions of tiny dots laid out in a specific pattern. The account holder writes out the cheque as normal, but uses a digital pen which “reads” the cheque as it is written. – Agencies