Banks moving towards Digitization: Barclays Cheque Imaging

Anyone who has ever cashed in a cheque would have realized how cumbersome and long the process is given the digital age we live in. We have all wished for a shorter faster process. Barclay’s recently revealed that they will be introducing a new service called ‘Cheque imaging’ that enables customers to cash in their cheques by using a smartphone to scan them.

Barclays is bringing the system as part of, its YourBank listening projects, which sees customers posting suggestions to make banking easier on a dedicated website. More than 3000 of its customers have added their ideas for new products and services on the website.

How does Cheque Imaging work:

· Users are required to take a picture of the back and front of the cheque and send the image to the bank.

· A computer system at the bank branch verifies the details of the cheque rather than by hand.

· The image is then sent electronically to the bank that issued the cheque to verify the signature and other details.

The current system in UK requires all cheques to be verified by a bank staff member. This is prior to the money being credited into the user’s account. This method need the user to either post the cheque or visit a bank branch to pay it. The time consuming process also carries with it risk of the document getting lost or stolen. Barclays hopes to speed up the time for clearing cheques. The company aims to cut down waiting time for earning interest from 48 hours to within 24 hours and withdrawals from 96 hours to 48 hours.

Though we haven’t made any decisions on introducing a service to pay in a cheque online or through a mobile just yet, we know it’s something that Mumsnetters and business customers have told us would make their lives easier,' said Catherine McGrath, MD of Retail Bank, Barclays. 'On our YourBank website, we encourage everyone to contribute their thoughts for making everyday banking better so that we can look at shaping our banking around our customer’s requirements she added.

The bank has a legal right, according to the law to physically view the cheque before allowing the user to cash it. Hence, customers would be enabled to cash cheques only for other Barclays customers initially.

Although the process is already widely in use in France, U.S and Asia, Barclays hopes to be the first bank in Britain to offer Cheque Imaging. Earlier in 2010, JP Morgan Chase had introduced in USA a similar service which was followed by Bank of America and CitiBank.

LTP View: Barclay’s hopes to leverage this opportunity by being the first bank in Britain to offer Cheque imaging technology. The system can prove to cut down waiting times at banks and ease of withdrawal for consumers. Listening to their customers opinions on their Yourbank website to go ahead with cheque imaging is another positive move which could see wide adoption of the system.