New service is part of Lloyds tie-up with Smarta to launch Business Toolbox for SMEs
Lloyds Bank has announced it is trialling a scheme allowing customers to pay in cheques simply by taking a photo on their smartphone as part of a push for SMEs to embrace digital services.
To make a deposit, customers can take a photo of the cheque using their mobile phone camera which is then sent securely through a specially-designed app for clearance.
The funds, which can be as much as £2,500, should then be cleared the same day, giving the customer quicker access to their money and improved cash-flow.
Lloyds says the tests will run for several weeks, with a wider launch coming next year.
Digital imaging of cheques is already widely used by banks in other countries, including the USA, France and parts of Asia, and was included as part of the government’s Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill following a successful trial by Barclays earlier this year.
According to the Treasury, cheques remain a popular method of payment in the UK, with almost £840bn worth being processed in 2012, which accounted for around 10 percent of all payments in the UK that year.
More than nine in ten businesses continue to use cheque payments, it added, although the volume of payments processed had begun to decline in recent years, with Barclays estimating that UK customers fail to pay in up to £300m of cheques each year.
Box of tricks
The new service is one of many announced by Lloyds as part of a new drive to help entrepreneurs start, manage and grow their business.
In order to boost this, Lloyds has teamed up with business support network Smarta to launch Business ToolBox, a set of nine digital services aimed at helping SMEs grow.
Alongside the smartphone cheque service, Business ToolBox also features accounting and receipt management to digital tools for building websites, online data backup and a credit-checking facility.
The launch follows research from the bank earlier this year which found that a third of businesses across the UK are without basic online skills and do not see the benefits of doing more online such as saving time and increasing efficiency.
“We are committed to helping UK businesses and the ToolBox has been designed to offer small business owners the very best online tools that will help them run their businesses more effectively and save money,” said Nick Williams, Lloyds’ consumer digital director. “The ToolBox has everything in one easy place to help SMEs be more efficient and pick out the opportunities for growth.”
“At Smarta we’re focused on making life easier for the people behind the UK’s 4.8 million small businesses,” said Shaa Wasmund, founder of Smarta. “That means providing them with the tools, technology and support they need in order to be able to focus their time on growing their businesses rather than simply managing them. “
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