The banking industry in the UK has announced an update on its objectives to deliver a new Faster Payments system, as well as changes to the cheque clearing processes that are designed to provide certainty and increased transparency for customers accepting cheques. The testing of the Faster Payments service has proved more complex and time-consuming than originally expected, so its introduction will not now be happening in 2007. The Office of Fair Trading has been informed. A thorough re-plan is now being undertaken so that the industry can announce a revised launch date by mid-August 2007. This new system is being built for longer-term needs rather than short-term requirements: web, phone and standing order payments currently make up only 8% of automated payments. Customers should not be inconvenienced by this delay, as clearly they can continue to make these types of payment using existing systems. The announcement will not impact the UK banking industry’s ability to deliver changes to the cheque clearing process. This project remains on track to deliver at the end of November this year and will provide increased transparency and certainty. The key benefit is for customers who accept cheques. For the first time a customer can be sure that after six working days funds cannot be reclaimed as may have happened in the past – typically if the cheque turns out to be fraudulent or if it turns out there are insufficient funds in the payer’s account.
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