Cheque photo plan gets the go-ahead

woman photographs cheque Image copyright Barclays
Image caption The technology is already being used in other countries

A system that will allow people to pay in a cheque by taking a photo on their smartphone has moved a step closer.

Rather than go to the bank in person, customers will be able to photograph the cheque, and send it electronically.

The government says the idea has been broadly welcomed during consultation and will now be included in planned new legislation.

Barclays, which has run a pilot of the system, claims up to £300m of cheques in the UK are never paid in each year.

Details of when the new cheque imaging option will be available are still being finalised.

Customers will still have the option of paying in paper cheques at bank branches, cash machines, post offices and by post.

'More convenient'

Latest figures show that nearly £840bn of cheques were processed in 2012, accounting for 10% of all payments made by individuals.

The new technology will allow cheques to be cleared in two days, rather than the six it takes at the moment, and banks believe that the system could be more secure.

The system is similar to imaging projects already established in the USA, France and parts of Asia, the UK Treasury said.

"The innovations included in this Bill, including cheque imaging, show the government is determined to keep up the pace of our reforms to create a banking sector that delivers for Britain's hardworking people and businesses," said Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrea Leadsom.

Steven Roberts, from Barclays, said: "This is an opportunity to move cheques into the 21st Century, to reduce costs and make banking easier and more convenient for customers.

"We look forward to working closely with other banks, industry groups and the Treasury to make this a universal nationwide service as quickly as possible, so that all customers with a cheque to deposit can do so through their phone, tablet, branch or self-service device, regardless of who they bank with."

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