Barclays is rolling out its mobile cheque service to more customers, who will no longer have to go to a branch
Barclays is rolling out its mobile phone cheque service to another 1m customers, allowing them to pay in cheques by taking a photo on their smartphone rather than visiting a branch.
Initially the imaging service was only available to iPhone users . From today a selection of customers with Android phones and iPads will be able to pay in cheques via the app, in what has become a very large-scale pilot of the technology.
Only cheques from one Barclays customer to another can be paid in at the moment – the other banks are aiming to have an industry-wide system in place by July 2016.
Lloyds Banking Group is hot on Barclays’ heels. Last month it began a trial of its own mobile cheque imaging service with 1,700 staff taking part.
Cheque payments are one of the last banking transactions to go digital in the UK, as a change in regulations has only recently allowed banks to use photos of cheques, rather than the paper document.
Currently, banks take a photo of the cheque in the branch, but still have to send it to a clearing centre and to the bank on the other end of the transaction. As a result, a fleet of vans cross the entire country every day to make the service work, when technological advances mean there is no longer any reason to go to such expensive and time-consuming lengths to transfer the funds.
Mobile imaging is seen as something of a saviour for the cheque as a means of sending money. As a result of the difficulties processing them and the associated expense, banks had previously tried to phase out cheques, but met with protests from groups such as charities, which rely heavily on the method.
Mobile imaging is also important as banks cut down their branch networks, making it more difficult for some customers to pay in a cheque in person.
Barclays’ pilot currently has a limit of £500 per cheque. The customers selected for the trial received an email overnight from Barclays, giving them a link through which they can sign up for the service. The bank has chosen customers who are already regular users of the app, and who are suitable for what is in effect a line of credit, as the funds appear in the account in a matter of minutes – before the cheque fully clears.
The cheque is then fully cleared in a maximum of two days, compared with up to six days for traditional payments in branch.
So far, more than 30,000 customers have signed up, paying in £750,000 between them using the service.
“Our customers have welcomed this convenient new way of depositing one of the oldest forms of payment. Extending to Android phones is an important step forward in giving all customers the ability to pay in cheques using their mobile devices,” said Ashok Vaswani, head of personal and corporate banking at Barclays.
Mobile phone apps are already the most popular way for customers to transact with their banks. The extension of the mobile cheque service came as a survey found most Britons believe the UK will become a cashless society in the next 15 years.
The study, from data firm Equifax, found 16pc of Britons think cash will no longer be in use in five years’ time, with a further 23pc believing it will fall out of use in the next five to 10 years. Fifty-five percent expect cash to have disappeared from mainstream use in 15 years’ time.
Equifax believes the launch of Apple Pay in the UK, expected to take place this month, signals a further blow to the use of coins and notes.
“Apple Pay highlights that consumers are now widely receptive to payment approaches which use biometric technology and contactless methods, and are comfortable accepting them as secure payment mechanisms. No longer will we need to rely, it seems, on a pocketful of cash,” said Equifax’s identity and fraud analyst John Marsden.
“With contactless payment methods becoming increasingly popular, the UK economy, in London especially, has been transformed in recent years, moving ever closer to a cashless society.”
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This article was written by Tim Wallace from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.