Barclays is set to be the first bank in the UK to pilot technology that will allows businesses and consumers to deposit cheques via their smartphones, reducing the time it takes for cash to clear.
Some £840 billion of cheques were processed in 2012, with businesses accounting for over 370 million transactions.
The government has said that cheques are a “crucial part of the British payments landscape” and it will consult on introducing new legislation to allow for cheque deposits via smartphone technology, in a bid to “boost the status of the cheque” in 21st-century Britain.
“We’re excited to be the first bank to pilot this new technology and always welcome legislation which enables the whole industry to work together to make customers lives easier. These changes mean you will be able to pay cheques in instantly, not just in branch, but also using your smartphone or tablet computer,” said Steven Roberts, managing director at Barclays.
“When you can download a book or a film in seconds, we believe you should be able to deposit a cheque in the same way.”
He added: “This is just the beginning of how we want to transform the ‘cheque clearing cycle’ for our customers driving down the six days it currently takes a cheque to clear. We are planning to test the cheque imaging technology early in the New Year with a range of customers.”
By being able to send a picture of your cheque to your bank on your smartphone will reduce the time it takes for a cheque to process from six days to two.
This technology is already widely used in the US and consumers and businesses will still have the option to pay in paper at cashpoints or branches as they do now.
“The government is determined to create a banking sector that works for consumers and serves businesses,” said Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid.
“We want to see more innovation so that customers see the benefits of new technologies. That is why we’re creating a new payments regulator and why we are going to consult on speeding up the cheque clearing process.”
He added: “We want to take the very best of the current system and make it better. We want to cheques to have a crucial role in the ongoing success of the UK.”
Barclays has been quick to innovate using smartphone technology, with its Pingit mobile payments app proving popular since it first launched in 2012.