Barclays has extended a pilot scheme that allows cheque payments to be made via smartphone to one million of its customers.

The cheque imaging service enables cheques to be deposited by sending a photo through a smartphone app. It is hoped that the new payment method, offered in addition to standard deposit methods, will reduce transfer and clearing times from six days to two, and eventually make cashing a cheque faster than completing a Bacs transfer. 

© iStock/blackred
© iStock/blackred

The service had been available to a select group of Barclays customers since June, but will be expanded to more current account holders from today, according to the Financial Times.

However, the service will be restricted at first to cheque payments between customers of Barclays only. The cheque payment app is also currently only available via iOS, though support for Android smartphones will be added next year.

“Innovations like this are all about giving our customers more choice, saving them time and money and ensuring they can do their banking where and when it suits them best,” said Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of personal and corporate banking at Barclays.

Despite a reduction in the number of cheques used in the UK, there were still £840 billion processed in 2012, with businesses accounting for over 370 million transactions.

Earlier this year the gvernment introduced new legislation to pave the way for more banks to allow smartphone cheque payments, with the launch of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which will bring about changes to existing rules and allow ‘digital imaging’ technology.