Canadians finally getting mobile tool to cash cheques by smartphone

TORONTO – The technology has been around for a few years in the U.S., but Canadian consumers are finally getting access to a mobile tool to cash their cheques by taking a photo with their smartphone.

This week, the Westminster Savings credit union in B.C. began accepting cheque deposits with its mobile app. Meridian in Ontario and Affinity Credit Union in Saskatchewan are set to follow suit next month.

“Anything that we can imagine we can do in the branch or online our members are looking to do eventually on our phones,” said Meridian’s senior vice president and chief information officer Gary Genik.

“One of the last things left for members to drive them into the branch … is to actually deposit and get access to cash. This provides the ability to deposit a cheque from the comfort of their own home, office, cottage — wherever they happen to be.

“You get home from work the last thing you really want to do is go back out to a branch to deposit a cheque.”

Central 1 Credit Union, a trade association representing dozens of credit unions in B.C. and Ontario, said the technology would be widely available for other credit unions to adopt starting in June.

The technology is simple. Users simply need to take photos of the front of a cheque and then the back to cash it within the app.

ING Direct Canada first launched a trial of a similar technology in October and published survey results suggesting that 55 per cent of Canadian users deposited at least one cheque a month.

The company says the feature is to be officially launched in June and will work on all of the major mobile platforms: Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8.

None of Canada’s big banks have publicly hinted yet about implementing the same feature.

RBC released its own version called Remote Deposit in the U.S. in February 2012 but has not revealed any plans to launch it in Canada.

“While we can’t comment on our strategy at this time, RBC is reviewing options for mobile capture on several fronts,” the bank said in a statement.