New figures reveal increased awareness of cheque imaging

  • A phased roll-out of the new system begins in just over three months’ time on 30 October 2017
  • Cheque clearing time to be reduced from ‘six weekdays’ to ‘end of the next weekday’[1]
  • 30% of charities and 20% of businesses aware that cheque imaging is

New market research commissioned by the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) has found that increasing numbers of bank and building society customers are aware of the forthcoming introduction of the image-based cheque clearing system that will speed up processing times significantly for cheque users across the UK.  Just under a third of charities (30%) know about the introduction of cheque imaging, which will go live with some banks and building societies from 30 October 2017. This is an increase from 23% last year. Awareness of the new system amongst consumers (15%) is at a similar level to last year, as is business awareness at 20%.

The roll-out of cheque imaging will be complete in the second half of 2018, when all of the UK’s banks and building societies will clear all cheques via the image-based system to the faster timescale. The precise date as to when this will happen will be announced by the industry in due course. Until then, two clearing systems will operate in parallel, which means that some cheques that customers write or pay-in will be cleared more quickly via the image system, and some will clear to the existing, six weekday timescale through the current, paper-based system. Banks and building societies will be advising their customers of their individual roll-out plans as appropriate.

James Radford, Chief Executive Officer of the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company, said: “Although the findings from our research indicate that awareness levels of cheque imaging are highest amongst businesses and charities, it is important that all organisations such as these – that write or receive cheques – speak to their bank or building society if they want to find out more. They can then adapt their processing systems accordingly, prior to the phased roll-out of the new system, which begins on 30 October.”

The new system will mean that if a customer pays in a cheque on a weekday they will be able to withdraw the funds by 23.59 on the next weekday (excluding bank holidays) at the latest, with many banks and building societies likely to allow access to the funds earlier than this.  Introduction of the new process will also mean that when a cheque is paid in, not only will the recipient receive the money in their account more quickly; the money will leave the account of the person or business that wrote the cheque to the faster timescale too.

Customers will still write cheques as they do today and give or post them to recipients in exactly the same way as they always have. Cheque recipients will still be able to pay in cheques in the normal variety of ways, such as at a bank or building society, by post or at an ATM. This continuation of regular customer practice is particularly important for charities, 29% of whom say they receive half or more of their donation income by cheque.

However, cheque imaging is also about providing more choice, and it means that some banks and building societies may offer their customers the additional option of paying-in an image of the cheque – by using a secure mobile banking app on their smartphone or tablet – rather than having to go to a bank to pay it in.

For more information about how the new process will work visit: www.chequeandcredit.co.uk/cheque_and_credit_clearing/cheque_imaging/.

Cheque imaging fact sheets are available to download from www.chequeandcredit.co.uk/resources_and_advice/factual_publications/.

 

Market research:
The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company commissioned Kantar TNS to survey consumer cheque use and awareness. The results of the April 2017 survey are drawn from interviews with 2,000 UK adults, which are then weighted to represent the whole of the UK population. BDRC Continental was commissioned to survey business cheque use and awareness. The results of the April 2017 survey are drawn from interviews with 1,000 UK businesses, which are then weighted to represent the whole of the UK.  Ipsos MORI was commissioned by the C&CCC to survey charity cheque use and awareness. Fieldwork was carried out between 3rd and 28th April 2017 and interviews were carried out over the phone with 1,000 charity financial representatives. Data is weighted to match the charity population of the UK by nation and size (measured by income).

The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) is a non-profit making industry body, which has managed the cheque clearing system in England and Wales since 1985, and in all of Great Britain since 1996 when it took over responsibility for managing the Scottish cheque clearing.  As well as clearing cheques, the system processes bankers’ drafts, postal orders, warrants, government payable orders and travellers’ cheques.  The company also manages the systems for the clearing of paper bank giro credits (the credit clearing), euro cheques (the euro clearing) and US dollar cheques (the currency clearing for US dollar cheques drawn on London banks).

The Belfast Bankers’ Clearing Company Limited (BBCCL) is a non-profit making industry body. It was set up in 2007 as a means of formalising the existing rules and standards for the sterling cheque and credit clearing in Northern Ireland.

Cheque usage

Although cheque usage is in decline, 477 million were written in 2016.This shows that cheques are still important for certain groups and in certain situations.  As such the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company has taken steps to improve the cheque clearing process to ensure that cheques can be sustained for those consumers, charities and businesses that use them.

Secure and reliable

The new clearing process will be as secure and reliable as the one we use now.  Robust security measures will be built into the new process to ensure customers continue to be protected. As with the situation today, customers will not foot the bill if they are an innocent victim of cheque fraud.

Imaging around the world

The UK will not be the first country in the world to introduce cheque image processing, and therefore can learn from the experiences of other countries that have introduced similar systems. The USA, France and much of the rest of Europe, India, China and some other Asian countries have image-based processes in place.

Legislation

The introduction of cheque imaging required a legislative change and, following on from a consultation into speeding up cheque payments that ran from March to April 2014, the Government published its conclusions on 25 June 2014, along with the draft enabling legislation within the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. The approved Bill received Royal Assent in March 2015, and the enabling legislation came into force on 31 July 2016.

[1] Weekday: Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays)