I could imagine a mixed system, where you use your bank’s online system to generate (print out) a paper cheque for a fixed amount, which you could then fill in (name, address, etc.) and snail-mail to someone. The cheque wouldn’t have the usual safety features, but it could bear a unique 637-digit authorisation number matching the transaction you did online to authorise it. This way normal chequebooks would no longer be needed.
Or we could keep using chequebooks but, instead of that ridiculous signature that the banks don’t even verify, they could require that we write out a 58-digit autorisation number matching something we obtained online. No number, no value. It would make a stolen chequebook pretty much useless.
I guess if cheques were being invented today, they’d look something like that. But they were invented a long time ago, and an entire ecosystem has grown up around them. It’s not unusual, for instance, for an individual to write a cheque with the intention that it not be cashed unless something happens, or for person A to sign a blank cheque for trusted person B to fill in with the needed amount at a later time, or for person C to write a cheque and hope that the bank won’t process it until payday, etc.
I guess eventually, as fraud mounts, the banks will just raise their fees for cheque processing to discourage individuals from using them altogether.
I write maybe 6 cheques a year, for condo fees; the rest is all electronic. Oh, and a specimen for the gym. And I’m old-fashioned, the kind who requires paper statements. We even loaned money to a friend and he’s repaying us electronically.