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New checks system from 2011

With standardized checks scheduled to come on board for all domestic banks at the beginning of 2011, the former minister of finance is calling the move”a positive advance”for the financial services sector.

James Smith toldGuardian Businessyesterday that the new checking system will make banking more efficient and is a step in the right direction.

“It’s another step in the process that started some time ago to improve the efficiency in the banking system, following from the Automated Clearing House, so basically it’s an attempt to modernize the local banking system,”Smith said.”I think it’s a very positive advance for the local banking system.”The standardization of checks for local banks will make transactions easier for Bahamians, as it will allow them to carry out checking activity with any financial institution in the country and minimize fraud.

The new system will come into effect on January 1 and will require all banks to carry and distribute standardized checks to their customers. The announcement was made yesterday by the Clearing Banks Association(CBA), with its Chairman Barry Malcom saying the shift to a standardized checking system was done for several reasons.”The first and most obvious reason is because of security,”said Malcom, who is also managing director of Scotiabank.”Checks that are printed in-house are not printed on what is considered safety paper, nor do they contain any of the hidden features that protect against fraud. The new checks will help safeguard against potential fraud. The second reason for the transition is to ensure good imaging.”

All seven members of the CBA(Bank of The Bahamas, Citibank, Commonwealth Bank, Fidelity, First Caribbean, Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank)are converting to the new checking system. Clients of these banks are being prompted to exchange any checks prior to 2010 or replace any that have been printed on in-house checking machines. Smith added that the new system wil inject more confidence in Bahamians when performing banking transactions, and will erase some of the fear that they could become a victim of fraud.

“Going forward people will be able to bank with more confidence that the possibility of having checks forged will be minimized through the banking system,”he said.”I think it’s a good thing for the banking system in particular and the country in general.”Each bank is setting its own specific policy, but no extra charge will be applied for the new standardized checks with security features and enhanced imaging capture capabilities. Customers will still be able to choose the design of their checks based on each bank’s offerings.

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