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Cheques have been used by people all over the world, for over 350 years.
Although the use of cheques in the market to make payments has decreased over the years, the total loss to businesses that are still using cheques is significantly high compared with previous years, at 161% increase in 2019, according to UK Finance, 'Fraud the Facts 2020'.
In 2018, Pay.Uk introduced the Image Clearing System which allowed for images of cheques to be exchanged between banks and building societies. The Image Clearing System replaced the paper clearing process, and was a way to catch up with technology; thus making cheques digital for users to make electronic payments and improve processing timescales.
As fraudsters quickly figured, the Image Clearing System had some security vulnerabilities which were open to manipulation. In response, the industry introduced Image Survivable Feature (ISF), a feature designed specifically for the Image Clearing System. ISF is a relatively new feature which uses cryptographic technology to retain security features and sensitive information on cheques. The payment data is encrypted and printed onto the face of the cheque, either as a string of text or machine-readable code.
ISF may soon be a mandatory security feature required by banks. Businesses using cheques will need to invest in a solution - whether that's internal, or through an outsourced printing service, that allows them to be compliant and secure.
How cheques have evolved, and why this is good news for fraudsters
This episode on the payments podcast is reviewing how cheques have changed to keep up to date with the digital consumer that expects payments fast.
In recent research of over 800 decision-makers, 58% admitted that financial loss due to payment fraud is ‘part and parcel of running their business’. Interestingly, 69% of these same decision-makers also stated that they should be doing more to mitigate against potential payment fraud.
Despite an overall decline in the volume of cheque disbursements in the UK, over half a billion were processed in 2015; and the proposed new Image Clearing System will revolutionise how cheques are cleared, by leveraging digital imagery.
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