The much vaunted cheque truncation may be here at last after a notice at the bank branch that it will be in effect from Monday – January 16 – six months later than scheduled. Cheques may now take as little as one day to clear. However the notice also reminds & cautions bank customers that even cheques they write will hit their account within a day of presentation – and that they should watch that they don’t get inconvenienced .i.e. issue cheques that bounce (bad for them, good for the bank which will hit them with more charges)
Having cheques clear faster is also a matter of necessity for banks if they hope to have cheques remain relevant and preferred for small payments. The number of cheques used in Kenya in 2010 (15.7m) and 2011 (16.7) was lower than the 16.8 million used in each of the two years before – and having a cheque book is less of factor when people open personal accounts.
The volume of transactions and money moved by M-Pesa and other mobile money systems show they are the preferred way for instant payments. Banks did not help themselves in this by relegating banker’s cheques (previously the preferred way of paying school fees) to a slower clearing cycle – same as other regular cheques (to guard against fraud), even before direct deposits (to school accounts) and M-Pesa established themselves. By having cheques clear faster ensure they don’t go the way of the travellers’ cheques.