A few years back I did some market research in exchange for a hefty sum of money at the end. When it came to getting paid I opted for a cheque, rather than bank transfer, because I really needed the money and figured it would be faster. Nope.
Even in 2014 (I think), it took five days before I could get hold of the money. That was still true earlier this year, when my former landlord returned my deposit to me. Thankfully, at long fucking last, banks can now clear cheques in a single day. It's all thanks to a new image processing system implemented by the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company.
In the past clearing a cheque, as it turns out, was a pretty annoying thing to deal with. Each one had to be sent to a clearing centre by post (urgh), where it would go through a system of checks, verification, and more transportation around the country. Basically it took so long because everything was done manually, possibly because image recognition wasn't good enough to do everything accurately.
The new system lets banks take pictures of the cheque, and exchange them with other financial institutions. That means that customers will be able to withdraw or spend the money by 23:59 the next working day. The way cheques are handled before they reach the bank is the same, though, so people will only notice the difference when they magically get the money earlier than expected.
The downside is that the new system, which went live yesterday, isn't completely taking over. The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company said that only a small number of cheques will be processed with the new system, and that the old slow and rubbish processing system will continue. The volume will slowly increase over time, though, with a full switchover scheduled to take place next summer.
All I have to say is that it's about damn time. Bank transfers make everything so much easier, but sometimes you still have to deal with cheques. And that five day wait was such a pain. Bring on the faster system, and with it the inevitable complaints that the money doesn't get deposited immediately. [Cheque and Credit Clearing Company via Engadget]