What is Cheque Imaging?
In 2011 the UK Payments Council made the decision to close central cheque clearing, which many saw as a measure that would effectively ‘kill off’ the cheque. Serious concerns were raised by businesses and charities still reliant on the cheque for making and receiving payments, and the Government stepped in, confirming that the cheque would remain in existence for as long as customers still wanted to use them.
Now that the cheque is here to stay, the industry has been looking at ways to make the processing of cheques faster and more efficient. On Boxing Day 2013 The Government announced that it was considering legislation that would make image based clearing possible. BBC News story below:
HM Treasury carried out a consultation – Speeding up cheque payments: legislating for cheque imaging. The outcome of the consultation was ultimately that the Government would legislate to make Cheque Imaging a reality, commenting:
“Cheque imaging enables a wide range of benefits to consumers, businesses and the banking industry, including faster clearing times and greater customer convenience. The government is now introducing legislation in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill to enable the introduction of cheque imaging.”
The Bill received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015, becoming law – Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
What’s Happening Now?
The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) is a non-profit making industry body funded by the UK banking industry. It has managed the cheque clearing system in England and Wales since 1985 and in Scotland since 1996. C&CCC is currently working on agreeing an implementation plan with all the relevant parties, to make industry-wide cheque imaging a reality in the UK.
Commenting on cheque imaging, C&CCC has said: “Clearing cheques via a ‘cheque imaging’ model appears to offer the most benefits for consumers and businesses. This system would mean that images of cheques are exchanged between the relevant banks, removing the need for the actual paper cheque to be transported physically around the country. One of the main benefits is that the cheque clearing process could be speeded up.”
It is expected that the industry will be ready to partially implement cheque imaging by July 2016 and complete by the end of October 2017. In the meantime, banks are beginning to trial the remote deposit of cheques with their customers. The advert by Barclays bank shows one such trial.