Proposed cheque processing reforms

Cheque scanningRetailing organisations that remain committed to the receipt of cheques as a means of payment will benefit greatly from the introduction of image-based cheque clearing technology.” That is according to Martin Ruda, Managing Director of the TALL Group of Companies, who is commenting on proposed legislation that would allow businesses to pay in cheques digitally.

The reforms are included in The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which is currently awaiting approval after a HM Treasury consultation revealed there was widespread support for the image-based cheque clearing technology to be introduced.

Under the proposed changes, the time taken to clear a cheque will be reduced from four or six days, allowing transactions to be irrevocably completed within 48 hours. Plus the payment system will eradicate the cost of having to send cheques to the bank via a courier, or make a daily trip to the bank, although doubtless banks will still want to apply cheque processing charges for businesses.

This probably won’t affect marketplace sellers too much. Amazon stopped supporting cheque payments years ago and not many eBay sellers offer cheques as an option, However many businesses will still receive the odd cheque in the post regardless. Plus of course businesses with trade counters or retail outlets and especially those with mail order catalogues may still be receiving a fair quantity of cheque payments.

In anticipation of the legislation, the TALL Group is already working with retailers to streamline the internal operation associated with the processing of cheques. Mail order specialist Lakeland Limited receives between 1,000 and 4,000 cheques each working day. The company uses the Checkprint Banking Assistant Plus, a cheque imaging system that combines a desktop scanner to capture cheque images at point of receipt with comprehensive analysis software for reconciliation and archiving. Each morning the previous day’s cheques are passed through the automatic feed reader capturing the value, codeline details and full image of the cheque, dramatically reducing the time spent processing documents, saving both time and money.

Does your business still receive cheque payments? If you’re anything like me you’ll probably grumble every time you receive a cheque and then wander off to the bank when you have a big enough bundle to be worth paying in. Whilst I’d very much prefer to insist on electronic payments only, I’m not silly enough to refuse any reasonable payment option if it’s the customer’s preference. Getting payments in is of course what keeps a business running.