People will be able to pay in a cheque simply by photographing it on their smartphone or tablet under new Government legislation. Measures contained in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill will allow banks and building societies to process a cheque without needing to physically receive it.
The move means that someone sitting in their armchair at home will be able to send their bank a photo of their cheque which it can then pass on electronically to the paying bank to check against their records.
A previous consultation launched by the Government said that the way cheques are currently processed creates "delay and expense".
When paper cheques are paid into banks, they end up going on a journey around the country, travelling to the clearing centres of both the bank collecting the cheque and the paying bank so that sort codes, account numbers and signatures can be checked for fraud and to establish there are sufficient funds.
While under the current system a cheque recipient has to be able to withdraw funds four days after paying it in, the cheque can still bounce after this period and it is only on the sixth day after payment that they can be sure the money is theirs.
The move would also enable smaller firms, which tend to rely more heavily on cheques, to pay them in later in the day as they will not be relying on the bank having to physically courier the cheque in order for the payment to start being processed.