Cheque imaging is the process that allows digital images of cheques to be exchanged between banks and building societies, through the Image Clearing System, for clearing and payment. This will significantly speed up the clearing process.
Almost 500 million cheques were written in 2019, showing that cheques are still a very important part of our payments landscape. To improve the efficiency and speed of the clearing process, a method of clearing cheques is being introduced that uses the latest digital technology. This will mean that the future of the cheque is protected, meaning customers can continue to use them for as long as they want to.
You can still write paper cheques to give to the recipient but, if you receive a cheque, you may be offered new ways of paying it in to your bank or building society account.
You will still be able to pay in at a branch counter as you do now. An image of the cheque will be created by your bank or building society when the cheque is paid in and it will be this image that will be exchanged electronically through the new Image Clearing System between the relevant banks and building societies.
In addition, introduction of the new system will mean that some banks and building societies will give their customers the additional option of paying-in an image of the cheque as opposed to the piece of paper itself.
If you are a corporate, local authority or charity customer you can implement a scanning facility from Solchar so that you can scan large numbers of cheques yourself to create images which you will then be able to upload to your online bank for processing. This will also enable you to manage cheque receipts in a much more organised efficient manner using the latest technology.
The timescale starts depending on your bank’s advertised cut-off time for paying in a cheque. This will also vary according to how you pay it in e.g. over the branch counter, by post or via a desktop scanner.
If you pay in a cheque on a weekday (before the cut-off time), you will be able to withdraw the funds by 23.59 on the next weekday (providing the cheque doesn’t bounce). 23.59 will be the latest time that banks and building societies will be working to and many are likely to let you withdraw the funds earlier than this.
In addition, 23:59 on the next weekday is the latest time by which you can be guaranteed that the funds from the cheque are definitely yours and the cheque won’t bounce.
Yes, the new system will be UK-wide. The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company is working with the Belfast Bankers’ Clearing Company to ensure that banks and building societies in Northern Ireland clear their cheques through the new system along with all the banks and building societies in Great Britain.
The new system went live with some banks and building societies on 30 October 2017. In 2019 all of the UK’s banks and building societies will clear all cheques via the image-based system to the faster timescale. Over time, increasing numbers of cheques will be cleared using the new system and more and more customers will benefit from the faster timescales. Banks and building societies will also advise their customers at the appropriate time regarding their individual roll-out plans.
Cheques will be processed more quickly – the funds from a paid-in cheque will be available more quickly than at the moment. The Image Clearing System will speed up the time it takes a cheque to clear from six weekdays to be absolutely sure that the cheque won’t bounce the next weekday (bank holidays excluded).
The future of the cheque is secured – the move to image processing will help protect the cheque so that you can continue to use them for as long as you want.
Nobody has to do anything differently if they don’t want to – you will still write cheques and give or post them to recipients. If you want to carry on paying in cheques as you do at the moment, you will still be able to do so.
Some banks and building societies may offer additional ways to pay-in cheques – introduction of the new system will mean that some banks and building societies will give their customers the additional option of paying-in an image of the cheque – by using a desktop scanner, rather than having to go to a branch to pay it in.
There are also many operational improvements and efficiencies afforded by the new system that can be achieved by using Solchar’s Transaction Journal to help you manage cheque and credit administration more cost effectively.
The cheque will still need to get to the recipient before it can be paid-in to their bank account. However, as soon as the cheque is paid-in, be it at a branch or through a desktop scanner the clearing process can begin. As the paying customer, the money will leave your account by the next weekday (bank holidays excluded).
In-built security techniques and checks will be deployed to help prevent fraud, so provided you have kept to the terms and conditions of your account you will be protected if you are an innocent victim of fraud, just as you are now.
No, not if you don’t want to. If you want to carry on paying in cheques as you do at the moment (e.g. by visiting a branch), you will be able to do so, there are alternative options available to help you manage your business a different way now.
No, you will still write cheques and give or post them to recipients as you do now but your bank or building society may offer you new ways to pay in cheques that you receive – it is at this point that the paper cheque will be imaged.
No, you will still be able to use your existing chequebook
Yes. The new system will process all of these as well as cheques.
No. The new system will process sterling cheques, postal orders, travellers’ cheques, bankers’ drafts and dividend cheques drawn on UK banks and paid into a UK bank account in the UK but not foreign currency cheques.
Cheques are physically transported from bank or building society branches to central clearing centres at present, where they are processed before being exchanged with the relevant banks and building societies for payment. It is a slow and labour-intensive process but it has to be done this way because the current law requires it. All this will change under the new system.