Banking for the older old

An electronic cheque which eliminates the need for costly processing by banks but preserves the simplicity and ease of a traditional cheque book has been designed by a team from York, Newcastle and Northumbria universities.

The ‘digital cheque book’ is part of world-leading research at Newcastle University relating to ageing and health. According to Age UK, over 70 per cent of people over 65 still frequently use cheques.

The system devised by the project team, which is funded by the RCUK Digital Economy theme, led by EPSRC, uses a cheque book identical to those currently issued by banks. The only difference is that each cheque has a greyish background – which is in fact billions of tiny dots laid out in a specific pattern.

Using widely available digital pens, a camera in the pen ‘tracks’ the cheque as it’s written. Once complete, the account holder ticks a box – the only difference from a normal cheque – and the information is transmitted directly to the payee’s bank account.

Newcastle University’s Dr John Vines says: "The beauty of this system is that it provides a safe and cheap electronic transaction for the banks but it’s a physical paper-based transaction for the customer."

For further details visit:

and page 7 of the latest edition of Pioneer, the magazine of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.


published on: 16th July 2012