updated 03:02 pm EST, Fri December 27, 2013
Trial in April follows change in UK banking legislation
Banks and building societies in the United Kingdom are considering allowing customers to pay in checks using smartphones, the UK Treasury has announced. The change, which would involve bank customers to photograph a check using a smartphone instead of taking it to branch, could be implemented as part of a new Check 21 law, with the first trial of the system set to begin in April.
The Check 21 law allows banks to process checks electronically instead of transporting the paper slips around the country, reports the BBC, with a similar system having been in operation in the United States for the last nine years. The law change also introduces the possibility of checks taking a shorter period of time to clear, potentially clearing funds within two days instead of the current six-day period.
Barclays will be the first bank to test the system, which would involve the bank's smartphone app taking a photograph of the check itself and sending it to the bank's servers, but not storing it on the mobile device. "Moving into a virtual world will actually create a more secure customer experience than the paper experience today," advised Antony Jenkins, chief executive at Barclays.
Ten percent of all payments by individuals were made by check in 2012, according to the report, with the figure increasing to 25 percent for businesses. The UK Payments Council previously planned to stop check payments in the country by 2018, though it decided against the measure after a public outcry.