Barclays to pilot smartphone cheque deposits

Financial it

Barclays to pilot smartphone cheque deposits

Karl Flinders

Barclays Bank will pilot a scheme allowing customers to pay cheques into their accounts via pictures taken on their mobile phones, following a government announcement.

The government will begin consultation this year to introduce new legislation to allow people to pay money into their bank accounts by taking pictures of cheques on their phones, as bank customers do in the US.

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Steven Roberts, managing director of Barclays, said the bank is planning to test the cheque imaging technology with customers early in 2014.

“These changes mean you will be able to pay cheques in instantly, not just in branch, but also using your smartphone or tablet computer. When you can download a book or a film in seconds, we believe you should be able to deposit a cheque in the same way,” said Roberts.

The service is expected to cut cheque processing times from six to two days.

Barclays is eager to demonstrate its digital credentials. For example, when announcing a trial of in-branch touchscreen devices in July 2013, Barclays said it was reacting to customer demand and wanted to prove it is up-to-date with digital services.

“We did not have a traditional business case, but we had a strategic intent to demonstrate our digital credentials,” said Barnaby Davis, managing director UK branches at Barclays.

At the same time, banks are reducing staff numbers as digital services increase. Barclays plans to cut 1,700 jobs this year due to an increase in mobile banking.

Although the use of cheques is declining, they are still important to certain groups of people, according to Citizens Advice CEO Gillian Guy. 

“Cheques are an important, and sometimes vital, method of payment for many CAB clients. It’s good to see plans to bring cheques into the modern age with digital imaging and faster payments being introduced, alongside continued use of the more traditional paper cheques. It’s important these developments don’t bring extra costs or barriers for consumers,” she said.


A history of the cheque

1659 Date of the earliest known surviving English cheque

1717 Bank of England introduced printed cheques

1770 Daily cheque clearings formalised

1811 First known personalised printed cheques produced

1821 Committee of bankers formed to regulate clearings in London

1833 First clearing house built in Lombard Street, London

1939 Clearing transferred from London to Stoke-on-Trent due to Second World War

1946 Clearing transferred back to Lombard Street, London

1965 First cheque card issued allowing sterling cheques to be guaranteed up to the value of £30

1966 First credit card – Barclaycard – introduced in the UK

1969 UK Domestic Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme introduced

1985 Cheque and Credit Clearing Company established

1987 First debit card – Connect – introduced in the UK by Barclays

1989 First telephone-only bank – First Direct – introduced

1990 Peak year for cheque volumes

1996 Scottish cheque clearing with Scottish Exchange came under the responsibility of the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company

1997 First internet banking service introduced by Nationwide

2005 Shell stopped accepting cheques

2005 London Exchange moved to Milton Keynes and renamed the English Exchange

2007 Cheque volumes declined by fastest rate ever

2007 2-4-6 changes introduced to cheque clearing process, giving customers certainty on cheque funds for the first time

2008 Most major retailers stopped accepting cheques

2008 Faster Payments Service introduced for online, phone and standing order payments. Payments Council published National Payments Plan suggesting active management of the decline of the cheque is required,with a possible closure of the cheque clearing in 2018.


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