The government is to bring forward legislation that would allow the introduction of cheque imaging in the UK.
A report from the Treasury summarising responses to a consultation on speeding up the cheque payment process, published yesterday, says the government will introduce legislation to allow cheque imaging in the forthcoming Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.
Cheque imaging allows cheques to be paid in by means of a digital image taken on a smartphone or similar device. It is believe this would reduce the payment time from six days to two.
The report says the timings for implementation are being finalised.
It says the government will continue to consult key organisations in the cheque industry to identify an appropriate schedule for the introduction of the measure.
A date for its implementation will be announced once the timetable has been agreed.
Anna Bloch, acting senior policy officer at the Charity Finance Group, which responded to the government’s consultation, gave the announcement a cautious welcome.
But she said that take-up in the voluntary sector could be limited by the ability of charities to use the new technology.
"This take-up will depend on the size of their finance teams and their capability to afford and use imagining technology," she said. "We hope the market will move quickly to provide low cost solutions."
She said that although the CFG supported the move to cheque imaging as an additional facility for cheque processing, it was important that the Treasury also maintained support for the existing paper processing mechanism until there was a suitable alternative.
"We support maximising choice in payments systems," she said. "The costs of such changes should not be borne by the end user, so we believe it is vital for charities to still have the option of depositing cheques at a bank counter."