New cheque cashment plan to target the poor

Cash Centres, the biggest cheque cashment service in the UK, is in discussions with a major high street bank to launch a bank account targeting the poorest in society. The company, which was launched in 1992 and cashed &£150m worth of cheques last year, is also looking to add some 80 branches to its 240-strong network in the next year. Richard Perry, national business development manager of Cash Centres, says: “We believe there is a big market in servicing those people who cannot traditionally get bank accounts. “We are in discussions with a major high street bank over setting up some kind of current account. It {the account} will obviously cost that bit more.” Perry says the initiative is in the early stages of development. He expects any deal to see Cash Centres offering accounts through the partner bank’s branch network. Cash Centres was set up by Eddie Ford, a former pawnbroker, after the 1992 Cheques Act opened up opportunities for dedicated cheque cashment centres. The act puts legal responsibility onto the receiving bank if the cheque turns out to be stolen, making rigorous procedures necessary to ensure the identity of the customer and the cheque issuer. Many of the traditional cheque cashing services, such as pubs and corner shops, did not have the time or database infrastructure to carry out these check procedures, which can take 20 minutes the first time the service is used. Ford estimates that &£1.5bn in cheques was cashed in 1,200 centres last year by the tenth of UK adults excluded from mainstream banking.

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