Cheque Truncation

There’s an ongoing exercise within the Kenyan banking fraternity (KBA) to standardize cheques issued in the country under a process known as cheque truncation – and this will enable transfer of electronic images of customer cheques replacing the current process of physical of exchange of cheques by different banks at a central clearing house

Odd and large size cheque will be withdrawn between March and May 2011 and replaced by standard size cheques that are 7” by 4” inches in size and with enhanced security features by June 1.

The new system may halve the time spent in cheque clearing, which is currently about four (4) working days for most people. This has made cheques uniquely unpopular for small people, not just because of the cost of operating a bank account, but because of the cumbersome week-long time delay in the age of instant money transfers such as M-pesa.

Why are cheques good? They are easy to use, offer verifiable proof, security, and credit. While some buyers wants to stretch payment, and sellers wants immediate payment, both buyers and sellers have been tripped up by the four day cheque clearing cycle, sometimes to the benefit of bank – and a reduction in the cheque cycle could mean more income for them. Of Equity Bank’s income in 2010, Kshs 1.1 billion ($14 million) was from temporary overdrafts/un-cleared effects – which means you wrote a cheque, didn’t have cash in account, but Equity cleared (did not bounce) the cheque and charged a fee for the service.

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