UK government unveils proposals on cheque imaging

The UK government has unveiled proposals to use cheque imaging to speed up the process of paying in cheques.

The UK government has unveiled proposals to use cheque imaging to speed up the process of paying in cheques.

In a consultation paper published on 6 March, the UK Treasury said cheques were still an integral part of the payment industry for small businesses and charities in particular and that innovations that sped up the process should be supported by legislation.

Financial secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid, said: "This government is determined to create a banking sector that works for consumers and serves businesses.

"New technology has the potential to deliver real benefits for customers. That is why we’re creating a new payments regulator and why we are consulting on speeding up the cheque clearing process.

"We want to take the very best of the current system and make it better. We want to cheques to have a crucial role in the ongoing success of the UK."

Cheque imaging, already in use in the USA, France and parts of Asia, allows consumers to take pictures of cheques with their mobiles and pay them in via their mobile banking apps.

John Allan, national chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Many of our members, and their customers, still rely on cheques so will be pleased with the investment and innovation to ensure their continued use.

"Speeding up cheque payments into business accounts will help boost a firms’ cash-flow as many find the current process frustratingly slow.

"Using smart phones is an interesting idea which should allow firms in areas, particularly where bank branches are closing, to be able to accept cheques as a method of payment."

Cheques represent a significant portion of the British payments landscape, with nearly £1.4tr ($1.384bn) worth of cheques processed in 2013, accounting for 10% of all payments made by individuals.

The UK government started working on remote cheque deposit legislation in 2011, after a consumer backlash to plans to phase out the use of cheques by 2018.


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