Barclays customers will be able to deposit cheques by photographing them with their smartphones

Smartphone cheque deposit scheme to be trialled

A pilot scheme will see one million people trial new technology that allows people to pay in a cheque by taking a photo of it with their phone.

Barclays, which is running the pilot, says that users simply take a photo of their cheque before filling in an electronic deposit form and pressing send. Cheques paid in in this way will clear in a maximum of two working days, or one if it is deposited by 4pm, rather than the traditional six days.

At present customers need an iPhone to use the technology, but Barclays is aiming to eventually extend the pilot to Android-based smartphones.

A few thousand customers have already been trialling the technology, the firm said, adding that so far the scheme had received "extremely positive feedback" with 90 per cent of users saying it enabled them to do everything they wanted.

The bank also plans to trial it with corporate clients who would be able to scan and upload cheques using software on their office computers or by logging into a website.

Barclays said corporate customers would need to wait the standard six days to be sure the cheque would not bounce, although it would be trialling improvements to this timeline, along with enhanced functionality, in the coming months.

A previous consultation launched by the government found that the way paper cheques were processed, which sees them travelling to the clearing centres of both the bank collecting the cheque and the paying bank to check for fraud and to establish there are sufficient funds, created ''delay and expense''.

Plans to kill off cheques from 2018 were ditched a few years ago after the UK Payments Council faced an outcry from MPs, small businesses, charities and pensioner lobby groups, who said the needs of millions of vulnerable people were being ignored.

Barclays confirmed that as the new technology is rolled out, people will still be able to deposit cheques at bank branches, cash machines and by post.

Despite the increasing popularity of new technologies such as online banking and mobile payments, nearly £840bn worth of cheques were processed in 2012.

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