Tag Archives: Cheques

Checkprint and Metro Bank Renew Significant Contract

Checkprint, part of the TALL Group of Companies, the UK leader in the provision of secure printed and electronic payment solutions, has signed a contract renewal with Metro Bank for cheque services. The decade-long partnership, which goes back to 2010 when Metro Bank was the first new high street bank to open its doors in the UK for over 100 years, has been extended for a further six years.

The contract enables Metro Bank to continue to instantly issue chequebooks to all new account holders, within minutes of them entering the store. Metro Bank is one of the only providers of instantly issued chequebooks on the high street and will look to Checkprint to continue to provide replenishment books for both personal and business customers, from the firm’s fully accredited site in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Martin Ruda, Managing Director of Checkprint, said: “It’s a tremendously positive partnership and Metro Bank are a great team to work with. The dynamic between both companies is interactive on both sides, as we both adopt more strategic positions in our markets. Metro Bank is constantly looking to evolve, and likewise, we’re always focussed on innovation and bringing new products and services to market.”

Tamsin Byrne, Metro Bank’s Director of Distribution Delivery, said: “The contract renewal is testament to the trusted and successful relationship between Metro Bank and Checkprint. Metro Bank’s commitment to providing a stand-out customer experience is underpinned with a number of key deliverables, including the ability to instantly issue chequebooks to all new account holders if they would like one. Since 2010, Checkprint has worked with Metro Bank to help us provide this and other innovative services to our customers. It’s an exciting time for both companies, who have immense respect for each other’s expertise and processes, and long may that continue.”

Law firms set to benefit from new cheque-writing platform and image survivable features

“Solicitors and other professionals involved with transfers of customers’ money must ensure their own systems are not vulnerable to being hacked and warn customers that last-minute changes to payment accounts are likely to mean fraud is being attempted.”

Katy Worobec, Managing Director: Economic Crime, UK Finance made the statement in her introduction to ‘Fraud – The Facts -2020’ report published by UK Finance in June this year. The report went on to highlight the fact that “cheque fraud losses increased to £53.6m in 2019…. Intelligence suggests the increase was largely a result of fraudsters targeting high-value corporate accounts, where losses per case are typically far higher than on individual customer accounts. Personal customers only accounted for a small fraction of the total losses. This raises the question of whether large firms need to enhance the security features on cheques to deter fraudsters.”

Banks are fighting back with the introduction of Image Survivable Features (ISFs) on both personal and corporate cheques. These features, typically a Unique Coded Number (UCN) or QR code (UCN Plus®) are printed on the face of the document and encrypt details from the cheque to help prevent fraudulent transactions. Introduced since the UK’s cheque clearing process switched to the use of cheque images rather than the transfer of the paper document in clearing, ISFs flag potential fraud in clearing where the cheque details do not match the encrypted information held in the printed ISF.

Leading security print specialists, the TALL Group, who hold the UK patent for the UCN Plus®, working in conjunction with DIA Kappa, the power behind the cheque clearing fraud prevention systems, have worked with the UK’s clearing banks to encourage particularly corporate customers to adopt ISFs on their special cheques. TALL will work with bank customers to advise how the introduction of an ISF can be achieved either on a pre-printed cheque or using in-house cheque infilling systems.

Early adopters, Bott and Co, a multiple award-winning No Win No Fee solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire have installed a complete UCN Plus® solution to enable them to apply the UCN Plus® ISF on their corporate cheques infilled in-house. Gary Froggatt, Finance Director at Bott & Co said that working together with their bank and TALL, they had been able to produce a corporate cheque design that included the UCN Plus®. “We see this as a major deterrent against fraudulent cheque transactions moving forward”, he added.

Whilst larger organisations have been able to deal with recent events, for those law firms that are struggling to make regular cheque payments during the current COVID-19 crisis as a result of their accounts staff working from home, or being furloughed, they can now access a new secure cheque-writing service offered by the TALL Group. The Send-A-Cheque™ service enables partnerships and businesses to simply supply the payment details, via a secure link, and within 48 hours a fully and securely infilled cheque, fully inclusive of ISFs, will be posted back to them for distribution to their clients or suppliers.

The initiative, by the TALL Group, C&CCCo (Cheque & Credit Clearing Company, Part of Pay.UK) accredited cheque printers, also includes an option for law firms to authorise a securely pre-signed cheque meaning it can be sent directly to the recipient. Indeed, it can also be used by law firms that are looking to further reduce overheads within their business moving forward and those with remote locations where a cheque book is not always accessible.

Martin Ruda, Managing Director of the TALL Group, said: “From just one to hundreds or even thousands of cheques, this service acts as an extra pair of hands for law firms, securely creating and distributing cheques on a company’s behalf with a very simple, easy-to-set-up service. It is time-saving, and once the company is set up on our systems, we can offer a rapid service with a same day despatch of cheques.

The inclusion of an ISF, a UCN or our patented UCN Plus®, on the face of cheque will also help prevent cheque fraud. A move that will benefit the industry as a whole.

As a further commitment to make our Send-A-Cheque™ service as accessible as possible to all law firms, we will waive its set-up charges for new users, for at least the next two months.”

Why The Good Old Dependable Cheque Still Has Its Place In The Legal Profession

TallGroup explain why cheques are still useful and relevant to the legal profession

Dated 16th February 1659, the earliest example of a handwritten cheque known to be in existence in the UK was drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton, scriveners and bankers based in the City of London, for £400 (about £43,000 today) that was made payable to a Mr Delboe and signed by Nicholas Vanacker. From this early transaction, the ‘good old dependable cheque’ has scaled great heights with cheque volumes peaking at 4 billion cheques in 1990.

Now, as volumes have started to fall, the UK banks were faced with a new challenge as to how and if they could bring this payment method into the 21st century. The old adage, “the cheques in the post” offered a reliable, but controversial, means of financial management with the received cheque then taking a further 6 days to clear through the central clearing system with millions of paper cheques transported around the country to be cleared.

The deliberations of the Payments Council in March 2007 could have heralded the end of the cheque but for protests from industry, charities and professional bodies who all demanded the retention of the cheque for all who wished to use them, for as long as they were needed.

Clearing System

With the future of the cheque assured, in December 2013, the board of the Cheque & Credit Clearing Company, the organisation behind the UK’s clearing system, announced major changes in order to introduce new technology that would future-proof the cheque for generations to come by giving the go-ahead for the introduction of an image-based method of clearing. This new process , fully implemented in 2019, meant that cheques would be cleared using an image of the paper cheque rather than by the physical document itself. By not having to transport paper items around the country, the clearing process has been shortened from 6 to just 2 working days for the funds to be irrevocably transferred to the payee’s account.

Now customers have more choice as to the payment method that they use, knowing the funds will transfer far quicker than previously using a cheque, and the use of the scanned cheque image can have added benefits to a law practise. Where third party cheques are received, a practice should ensure, where possible, that copies of the cheques are retained. The use of an in-house cheque scanner, for instance, can offer up advantages both for record keeping and transference of funds at a later stage. Indeed, some models of cheque scanner will allow for copies of other documentation received, up to A4 in size, to be retained electronically in a searchable archive. Together, these kinds of records will assist a law practice to discharge its obligation in respect of Section 140(2) ’to record and keep brief particulars sufficient to identify the relevant transaction and any purpose for which the money was received’.

The process of cheque ‘truncation’ (the concept of ‘truncating’ a cheque at point of deposit) has other benefits. The process of buying and selling a property has long been associated with cheque transactions. Even with the advent of CHAPS, the humble cheque retains its usefulness in the conveyancing process, particularly in the notorious ‘chain’ of property sales. Indeed, the new cheque image clearing system (ICS) will speed up the whole process of funds transfer by, as previously mentioned, reducing the time taken to receive cleared funds. A clear ‘win-win’ situation for all concerned in the process, leading to potentially speedier home buying experiences.

Fraud Prevention

The introduction of this new technology and the digitisation of the cheque has seen different patterns of attempted cheque fraud. The legal profession is no stranger to the problems associated with identity fraud and money laundering and have strong deterrents in place to help prevent attempted fraud. In the same way, financial institutions have implemented new methods to assist in the prevention of cheque fraud.

Image Survivable Features

These preventative measures include the application of an Image Survivable Feature (ISF’s) onto the face of a cheque. As it is the image of the cheque that now gets passed into the clearing system, there is no opportunity for the central clearing process to check the authenticity of the actual paper document. Consequently, the addition of an ISF that encrypts defined information from the face of the cheque into a Unique Coded Number (UCN) or QR Code (UCN Plus®) will survive the scanning process as part of the cheque image. This ISF, in turn, can be decrypted in the central clearing system and the details of the cheque automatically verified against the presented image. Any fraudulent alteration or attempted counterfeiting of the cheque can then be flagged, and the item trapped.

Branding

For many professional service organisations, branding and corporate identity are an essential part of creating a market position. The use of branded corporate cheques, for instance, provides a clear demonstration of the identity and values which can say as much about the organisation as its company letterhead. Banks offer a range of corporate cheque styles from book cheques through to computer cheques that can be designed to incorporate company colours, type styles and logos. Now increasingly, the banks are encouraging the introduction of an ISF as well in the fight against cheque fraud. Indeed, the introduction of an ISF onto a cheque says much about the organisation’s desire to be a responsible partner and clearly demonstrate its fight against fraudulent activity. Thus, enhancing the brand!

About The author:  TALL Group of Companies

The TALL Group of Companies is the UK’s leading provider of special cheques, credits and secure encoded documents, producing millions of secure documents each month from its fully accredited, secure production facilities for nearly 30 years. Counting leading UK banks, major corporations, SME’s and legal services amongst its customer base, TALL provides a total end-to-end solution to its clients offering consultancy services on the prevention of counterfeit and fraudulent items, with design, secure print and personalisation of both standard and corporate or ‘Special’ ranges of cheque and credit book products supplied. For more information visit www.tallgroup.co.uk or email us at enquiries@tallgroup.co.uk for advice.