We know that lots of you still love using cheques. The question is, do they have a future? Could giving them a digital makeover be a great way of keeping them alive?
We are a step closer to being able to pay cheques into the bank using our smartphones, after the idea, known as cheque imaging, was strongly supported in a government consultation.
The new system will mean that banks can clear a cheque by presenting a digital photo of the document to the payer’s bank, rather than sending the original as at present. That could mean cheques clear in as little as two days, and opens up the possibility of paying in cheques simply by photographing them using a mobile banking application on a phone.
The technology has already been successfully used in other countries, including the US and France. To make it happen, the banks will have to overhaul their systems, and the laws regulating cheque clearing, some dating from 1882, will be updated.
Digital cheque imaging
Almost 75% of people in the UK own a smartphone, according to Deloitte, while ING found that 31% already use mobile banking apps. Digital imaging should breathe new life into the 300-year-old cheque, and will be especially handy for those who find it difficult to get to a bank branch. If banks get the technology right, it could also be more secure than sending a cheque by post.
Not everyone is comfortable with mobile banking, and the Government says that its legislation will force banks to continue to provide traditional methods for paying in cheques. It’s vital that this happens, so that the cheque system remains accessible to all.
Banks should offer the technology as a new option – and avoid the temptation to see it as another reason to strip back the face-to-face banking experience that so many customers still value.