With more than half a billion cheques written in 2015, it is vital that the UK’s cheque clearing process is robust, reliable and secure. With this in mind, and to ensure that the future of the cheque is protected for as long as customers want to use them, the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) has been working on plans to introduce a new and quicker way of clearing cheques that uses 21st century technology.

Called the Image Clearing System, the proposed new method will revolutionise how cheques are cleared in the UK. It will mean that cheques will be cleared using a digital image of the cheque rather than via the current paper-based clearing system where the actual paper cheque is transported around the country to be cleared.

Implementation timescales announced in due course

There is much work to be done before cheque imaging can become a reality. One of the first stages in this process was a requirement for the law to be changed, eliminating the need for cheques to be physically transported around the country. This change occurred via the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, and the Government is now working on the regulations to underpin the new legislation. The C&CCC is currently working with the banking industry to agree the changes to the infrastructure and technological capabilities that are required before the Image Clearing System (ICS) can be introduced and timescales for its implementation will be announced in due course.

One of the main benefits of an image-based system is that the cheque clearing process can be speeded up, so cheque recipients will see the money appear in their account more quickly. In addition, once the cheque is paid in, the person or business who wrote the cheque will find that the money will leave their account to a faster timescale too.

Nobody has to do anything differently if they don’t want to

Customers will still write paper cheques and give or post them to the recipient as they do now. However, cheque imaging is also about providing more choice, and it means that some banks and building societies may offer their customers the additional option of paying in an image of the cheque - by using a secure mobile banking app on their smartphone or tablet - rather than having to go to a bank to pay it in. Although this is likely to be a more convenient method for some, customers will still have the option of paying in cheques in exactly the same way as they do today, so there is absolutely no requirement for customers to use a smartphone or tablet to pay-in a cheque if they don’t want to.

Please note that all information, material and publications on our website regarding the Image Clearing System and the proposed cheque imaging process, are subject to further amendment or change without notice. We expressly disclaim any liability to any users for any information on the website, which may change or be withdrawn without notice. For further information please see our Terms of Use. .

If you would like to be kept up-to-date with all future developments regarding our cheque imaging work, please email: info@chequeandcredit.co.uk.