By Oliver Smith on Monday 6 April 2020
A fast, painless process for paper cheques.
UPDATE 07-04-2020 - Starling's cheque imaging is now available for all customers with the latest version of its banking app.
The feature is more useful than ever given the government’s advice on staying at home wherever possible, saving Starling customers a trip to the post box to mail cheques to Starling.
For those new to this kind of service, cheque imaging allows a bank to process a cheque from a photo of the paper cheque, rather than the real thing.
AltFi understands the cheque imaging feature was always due to launch later in the year but was fast-tracked given the coronavirus outbreak.
For now, not all Starling customers have access to the service, given it’s being rolled out slowly.
Luckily AltFi was given access last week so we decided to give it a go.
First of all, there’s no notice in the app to suggest whether you’ve been granted access to cheque imaging or not, even the ‘Cheque Deposit’ button still lists Starling’s freepost method.
Once you’ve tapped into that, there’s a new button at the bottom ‘Deposit Cheque’ which brings up the imaging interface.
You’ll have to manually type how much the cheque is for, and either who sent it or what the money is being used for.
(Typing the amount is probably to double-check the figure Starling’s image recognition pulls off the cheque, and who sent it/what the money’s for is probably for anti-money laundering.)
Lastly, Starling wants you to take a photo of the front, and the back of the cheque—despite the back of the cheque being blank, again this could be for anti-money laundering or as sometimes additional instructions are written on the back of a cheque.
Once that’s all done and submitted, your pending cheque deposit (along with pictures) will appear in the ‘Deposit Cheque’ screen for around 2 days until the cheque clears.
Finally Starling warns that the physical cheque must not be discarded until the money has cleared and is in your account, just in case the process fails.
In our case the cheque was scanned at 6pm on Monday, and had cleared by Wednesday morning.
Starling’s cheque imaging service is a marked improvement over what came before.
At a time of national crisis it helps people to stay at home, and ends up processing the cheque faster than the alternative of putting it in the post.
Meanwhile, cheque imaging has the additional benefit of letting you hang on to the original paper cheque, just in case something does go wrong (unlike popping it in the post box).
The number of cheques (and cash) moving around the economy is declining sharply, however for many businesses and consumers cheques are still a part of life.
While some digital banks have given up on cheque imaging, it’s great to see Starling supporting all payment methods—even the uncool ones.