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Smartphone cheque pilot extended

One million more people have been invited to take part in a pilot scheme which allows people to pay in a cheque by taking a photo of it with their phone.

Barclays, which is running the pilot, said that a few thousand customers have been using it so far.

The initiative means that all people have to do to pay in a cheque is take a photo of the cheque they want to deposit on their smartphone before filling in an electronic deposit form and pressing send.

At present, consumers need an iPhone to use the technology, but Barclays is aiming to eventually extend the pilot to Android-based smartphones.

Rather than taking the traditional six days to clear, a cheque paid in in this way clears in a maximum of two working days, or one if it is deposited by 4pm.

The money is also available for withdrawal instantly.

Barclays said it would also shortly be trialling the technology with its corporate clients, offering the potential for businesses to save time and money paying in their customers' cheques to the bank.

Corporate customers would be able to scan and upload cheques using software on their office computers or by logging into a website.

Barclays said corporate customers would need to wait the standard six days to be sure the cheque would not bounce, although it would be trialling improvements to this timeline, along with enhanced functionality, in the coming months.

Barclays said that so far, the scheme had received "extremely positive feedback", with 90% of users saying it enabled them to do everything they wanted.

A previous consultation launched by the Government found the way paper cheques were processed created ''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.

As the new technology is rolled out, people will still be able to deposit cheques at bank branches, cash machines and by post as well as having the option of cheque imaging.

Plans to kill off cheques from 2018 were ditched a few years ago after the UK Payments Council faced an outcry from MPs, small businesses, charities and pensioner lobby groups, who said the needs of millions of vulnerable people were being ignored.

Despite the increasing popularity of new technologies such as online banking and mobile payments, nearly £840 billion worth of cheques were processed in 2012.

Last week, Barclays announced it was introducing "video banking", enabling customers to carry out a face-to-face video call with a Barclays staff member from their smartphone, tablet or computer at a time and place convenient to them.


From Belfast Telegraph