UK to modernize checks with image-based clearing

It’s not uncommon to hear that checks are a thing of the past – an antiquated payment method that will soon be extinct.

But they are still very much a part of the payments ecosystem, kept alive by the fact that there are some key groups – small businesses and charities, for example – that continue to use them.

Far from disappearing altogether, there are signs that checks are about to become more convenient and relevant than ever. In the UK, efforts are underway to reduce check clearing times from six weekdays to the next weekday.

Announcing its plans, the Check and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC), which manages the clearing system in the UK, said checks will remain “a key part of the payments landscape”.

The new, image-based clearing system will have a phased rollout at some banks and building societies from October 30th 2017, with all institutions due to be onboard by the end of 2018.

As a result of the change, customers will be able to deposit a check on a weekday and have access to those funds by the end of the following weekday, at the latest. Many providers will provide earlier access.

In addition to traditional deposits, some banks give customers the option to use a mobile app to capture an image of a check and deposit it remotely, offering maximum convenience.

James Radford, chief executive officer of the C&CCC, said: “These changes will put checks firmly in the 21st century, delivering real and important benefits for the many individuals, charities and businesses that regularly use checks.

“Not only will checks clear faster but banks and building societies may offer their customers the option of paying in an image of a check rather than the paper check itself.”

Technological innovation has given rise to some exciting new payment options in recent years, but it’s clear that there is potential for traditional channels to continue growing and evolving too.


Image: iStock/peepo

Written by Jack Dougal

Jack Dougal

Jack Dougal is's resident news reporter. He writes regular blogs covering the latest stories and key developments in the global financial services industry.

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