Barclays has extended the trial of its technology that allows people to pay their cheques by taking pictures of them

Barclays' photocheque available to Android users

Barclays has extended the trial of its mobile cheque imaging service that allows people to pay in their cheques by simply taking photos of them.

The trial, which originally included 30,000 customers with iPhones, has now been opened to half a million Android phone users, as well as users of iPads.

The technology, available through the Barclays Mobile Banking app, allows customers to pay in cheques of up to £500 without having to go to the bank. The whole transaction takes only a few minutes from taking the picture and uploading it into the system to funds being released from the bank account.

Since its launch last year, the technology has been used to deposit about £750,000.

“Our customers have welcomed this convenient new way of depositing one of the oldest forms of payment, which is why extending to Android phones is an important step forward in giving all customers the ability to pay in cheques using their mobile devices,” said Ashok Vaswani, Barclays Personal and Corporate Banking Chief Executive.

Traditionally, cheques need to be paid in directly to the banks and require a lengthy procedure to be cleared, which can take up to six days. Through the mobile payment, the transaction can be cleared in less than two days.

Due to its inconvenience, the centuries-old payment method of writing cheques was threatened with being scrapped completely, but was ultimately saved by a lobby of small businesses, charities and pensioner groups who argued that the basic banking needs of millions of vulnerable people were being ignored.

Subsequently, the government worked with banks to deliver a UK-wide solution for cheque imaging. Barclays is the first to roll out the system.

Several businesses have already signed up to the scheme. Barclays said that corporate customers are able to scan and upload cheques using software on their office computers or by logging into a website. They will have immediate access to the funds, but they will need to wait the standard six days to be sure that the cheque will not bounce.

Last month, Lloyds Bank confirmed that it was piloting a scheme which would enable customers to pay in cheques using their smartphone. The bank said it had started a pilot with more than 1,750 members of staff.

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