A new system for clearing cheques has been described as a “significant boon” for charities.
An image-based system went live with some banks and building societies on 30 October and at some stage in the second half of 2018, all cheques will be cleared via the image-based system.
The new system is designed to reduce processing times from six working days to one, but with no change in the way cheques are written.
The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company, which announced the new system, said this is “particularly important for charities, which receive many donations via this payment method”.
Andrew O'Brien, director of policy and engagement at the Charity Finance Group, welcomed the changes, which he said could make payments “quicker and simpler” for charities.
“This should enable charities to save time by using images of cheques, rather than having to physically cash them in.
“For charities which have seen local branches close, particularly in rural areas, this will be a significant boon.”
However, O’Brien warned that the new technology could create challenges for charities to safeguard against fraud.
He said: “Charities will need to adapt their processes so that fraud is not increased, for example, ensuring that images of cheques are not stored on personal devices and that two people continue to have oversight of incoming cheques."
The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company’s website says in-built security and checks will help prevent fraud throughout the clearing process.
James Radford, chief executive of the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company, described 30 October as “a momentous day in the history of the cheque”.
He said: “With the introduction of cheque imaging, we are bringing the UK cheque into the 21st century, ensuring that it remains a secure, robust and viable payment method for the millions of charities, businesses and personal customers that still write or receive cheques on a regular basis.”
Stephen Barclay, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Cheques still play an important role in our economy, but as times change it is vital that our methods of payment keep pace.
“The innovation of cheque imaging will help make them fit for the future by cutting clearing times and helping customers access their money more quickly.”
A guide to the new image cheque clearing process can be found here.