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Cheques to be paid in by snapping a photo with your phone

Take a photo of your cheque with your phone, and you could soon pay in electronically, without having to leave the house.

You could soon pay in that Christmas cheque from your granddad without having to go to the bank. Just snap a photo of it with your smart phone, and you could pay it in electronically, no need to brave the cold. Magic.

The government will launch a consultation on the idea, the Treasury announced in a press release, with a view to making the necessary legal changes. Add to this the plastic banknotes that were mooted recently, and it looks like our currency is about to get a lot more futuristic.

Not only would paying in by phone mean you wouldn't have to stand in a queue at the bank, it would be more secure too, according to banking bigwigs. "Moving into a virtual world will actually create a more secure customer experience than the paper experience today," said Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays.

Amazingly, 10 per cent of all payments in 2012 by individuals were made by cheque. For businesses, that figure is 25 per cent. The UK Payments Council was planning to abolish cheque payments by 2018, but backtracked after public opposition. This new technology would breathe new life into the humble cheque.

"We want to see more innovation so that customers see the benefits of new technologies," said Sajid Javid, the financial secretary to the Treasury. "We want cheques to have a crucial role in the ongoing success of the UK."

Barclays will launch a pilot programme for paying in cheques using smart phones in April 2014, with the full service planned to roll out later in the year.

It sounds great to me. It's such a waste of a lunch hour, standing in line with everyone else, waiting to pay in a cheque. Though it could lead to more job losses, as I can't see many people wanting to go to the bank branch if they can pay in from home.

What do you think? And what do you make of the plastic banknotes? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.