UK prepares to allow cheque pay-in via smartphone

UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has unveiled a new money transfer scheme that allows bank account holders to deposit cash without going to their bank – simply by photographing a completed cheque and emailing the picture to the bank. Thus, all one potentially needs to do is press a few buttons on one's smartphone.

The government is to launch a consultation on the idea, with a view to making the necessary legal changes. Officials said that the change, which is expected to be implemented as early as next year, will speed up deposits, and dismissed fears it paves the way to scrapping cheques.

The technology will also allow cheques to be cleared in two days, rather than the six it takes at the moment. Banks say the new transfer method will be more convenient and more secure.

Similar technology was introduced in the United States nine years ago, following the attack on the World Trade Centre.

A new law known as Check 21 was passed, to enable banks to process cheques electronically, rather than having to transport paper versions across the country.

But according to the Daily Express, with payments of nearly £840 billion made by cheques processed in the UK last year, a pensioners' charity has called for a guarantee that cheques will not be phased out.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said that it is essential that the new processing systems are secure and the option of paying in face to face at a bank or post office remains available to anyone who prefers to bank that way.

Meanwhile, business and consumer groups have welcomed the plan as many find the current process frustratingly slow.