News & Views - Savantor

Technology and alternative solutions

Tuesday, 09 June 2015
In these days of technological advancement, the cheque stands out as an anomaly waiting to be withdrawn or replaced from general use. Previously the Payments Council attempted to do just this by announcing the closure of central cheque clearing by 2018. This resulted in such an outcry that the directive had to be rescinded. So currently, the cheque remains an accepted method of payment. Last year Barclays introduced mobile cheque payments for iPhone users, for cheques paid from one Barclays account to another. More than 30,00 customers signed up to use the system and the Bank plans to roll out similar functionality for Android users in the coming months. This week Lloyds also signalled its intention to introducing mobile phone payments, by announcing a four-week pilot scheme for staff to test the system with another trial planned in the autumn, also potentially involving customers. Apparently the technology is under consideration by the industry in order to launch an industry-wide mobile imaging system in July 2016. Whilst we can all think of ways around the use of paper cheques, nevertheless the public as a whole did not support their abolition and therefore it is positive to see that newer technologies are being explored to improve the cheque process. Not only will it save Banks’ money and customers’ time, it can be seen as particularly helpful for customers who may no longer have a local branch nearby. Yet it could also be said that the removal of another reason for customers to visit their bank branch, can only assist in the potential closure of Bank branches as Banks find more ways to service customers in a non face-to-face manner. According to new research from the BBA, banking by mobile devices has overtaken branches and the internet as the most popular way to bank. Yet there will always be customers, particularly amongst the older age groups, who struggle with ‘technology’ and need to be able to deal with a human as opposed to a machine or an automated telephone system. The payments world is going through an exciting and fast moving transition period thanks to the new technologies that are being developed and introduced to automate systems and processes. However, it should not be assumed that everyone is able to use these technologies and adequate alternative solutions must be retained as an alternative.
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