Richard Johnson explains why cheques are still important for the Canal & River Trust…
We love cheques here at the Canal & River Trust, and why wouldn’t we? People have been using cheques as a form of payment for as long as there have been canals and we aren’t about to stop accepting them now.
Last year we banked over 7,200 individual cheques and received income totalling over £12 million. So, you can see what a vitally important form of payment they are for us.
Here at the Canal & River Trust we are responsible for looking after 2,000 miles of inland waterways in England and Wales, born out of the former British Waterways and have been around since 2012.
When you first think of canals you may only contemplate a barge meandering through the countryside, but we also have a diverse range of commercial activities that you may not be aware of:
- Property - where we collect rents from consumer and commercial customers
- Utilities - surface water drainage agreements, pipes running over/under our land
- Water - we sell water for cooling systems
- Boat licensing - if you own a boat on our waters you are required to hold a licence
- Moorings - we have a number of sites where boaters can moor permanently
Being a charity, we are also very keen on securing donations from the many millions of people who use the towpaths on a weekly basis and will always welcome any contributions made by cheque to keep the waterways in the best possible condition.
Many of our customers, especially on the boating side of things, have paid by cheque for a long period of time and although we have a fully integrated online system our customers can still submit their applications by post and attach a cheque if they prefer, and we have no intention of stopping them using this method. However, time keeps moving on and we are always on the lookout for new ways in which our process can be made more efficient and cost effective, enabling the Trust to maximise its resources and focus on the key task of being a charity that improves the lives of millions of people. We are currently working with our bank to try and implement a new cheque imaging system which should hopefully eliminate the need for trips to our local branch as a picture can be electronically whisked over to the bank for next-day clearing. We are hoping that the speed in which this new process can be carried out will improve our debt performance and allow us to take action in real-time. Whilst cheques may not be seen as the payment method of the future we here at the Trust certainly see them as the payment method of the present and while banks are issuing cheques and our customers want to pay using them we will be at the forefront of processing their payments and finding new ways for an easier and smoother customer experience.