Although you might think the only people who use cheques anymore are nonagenarians and milkmen, good news is on the horizon for those getting paid by the antiquated paper form. It’s going to get faster.
Currently, cheque payments take at least three working days to clear when paid into an account but the government has now unveiled detailed plans to modernise cheque payments, “reinforcing their relevance in 21st century Britain.” The changes will make a “real difference” to cheque users, reducing the time it takes for a cheque to clear to “as little as two days.” How underwhelming.
The government is proposing legislating for “cheque imaging” which will speed up cheque clearing times and give customers greater convenience and choice in how they deposit cheques. The reforms will enable banks to clear a certified, digital image of a cheque instead of a traditional paper cheque. A Treasury statement said that this will “secure the future of the cheque as a reliable method of payment in the UK, using proven technology which has been in operation in the United States for 10 years.”
In addition to reducing the clearing time by a day, the new technology will allow banks to offer the option of paying in cheques via smartphone or tablet. Additionally, banks may be able to offer later last times of deposit to customers if they no longer require couriers to collect paper cheques daily from branches.
And no matter what you think, cheques are apparently “crucial” to the “British payments landscape”. Treasury figures show that nearly £840 billion of cheques were processed in 2012 – accounting for 10% of all payments made by individuals. Small businesses, such as sole traders and other micro businesses make over a fifth of their outgoing payments in cheques and nearly a third of smaller charities receive over 75% of their income by cheque.
John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“Many of our members, and their customers, still rely on cheques so will be pleased with the investment and innovation to ensure their continued use. Speeding up cheque payments into business accounts will help boost a firms’ cash-flow as many find the current process frustratingly slow. Using smart phones is an interesting idea which should allow firms in areas, particularly where bank branches are closing, to be able to accept cheques as a method of payment.”
Powa-Tag is a UK based start up that helps you buy things on your mobile while you’re in store (or outside) – and it’s got some powerful big retailers on its side, too.
240 retailers, including HarperCollins, Reebok, Argos and Adidas, are all in partnership with the Point and Click app, which uses QR codes so that you can make instant purchases in a shop without having to queue for the tills. Or you can buy when a shop is closed, or have stuff delivered to you if the store you’re in is out of stock. Basically, you can point your phone at a shop window and buy stuff at midnight when it’s shut. WEIRD.
The app also allows stores to bombard target customers with special offers – which won’t be irritating at all!
But…aren’t QR codes a bit 2009? Wouldn’t it put sales assistants out of a job? And if you want to buy on your mobile, wouldn’t it be easier just to go home, put the kettle on and browse the online store, rather than lurking about outside an empty shop in the middle of the night, waving your phone about?
This old lady is confused.
Mozilla are currently hopping mad and investigating claims that Dell have been charging users to install Firefox for them. One report states that people have been asked to cough-up £16.25 to have the browser installed on their new computer.
Of course, Firefox is open-source and completely free. And it is an absolute doddle to install as well. Mozilla have said that there’s “no agreement” with Dell to permit this fee.
“Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report,” said Denelle Dixon-Thayer, vice-prez of Mozilla’s general counsel.
If you look at Mozilla’s policy document, it says: “If you are using the Mozilla Mark(s) for the unaltered binaries you are distributing, you may not charge for that product. By not charging, we mean the Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information.”
So what is Dell’s excuse? Well, they’ve said that they’re simply charging for time and labour: ”In this particular situation, the customer would not be charged for the Mozilla Firefox software download, rather the fee would cover the time and labour involved for factory personnel to load a different image than is provided on the system’s standard configuration.”
Are Dell just exploiting the dimwitted or is this an outrage? Comments please, readers.
Josh Grant’s mother died, leaving him with her iPad. Of course, the tablet was secured with passwords so Grant asked Apple if they’d unlock it for him. Apple refused, despite the fact Josh had provided copies of his mother’s death certificate and will. Apple, it seems, don’t think these things are sufficient.
Grant said: “We obviously couldn’t get written permission because mum had died. So my brother has been back and forth with Apple, they’re asking for some kind of proof that he can have the iPad. We’ve provided the death certificate, will and solicitor’s letter but it wasn’t enough. They’ve now asked for a court order to prove that mum was the owner of the iPad and the iTunes account.”
Naturally, Grant could buy a tablet all of his own, but you have to assume that, rather than wanting an iPad to dick around on, he’s actually wanting access to photographs and the like.
Threads have been started on Apple’s Support Communities, but it seems like the tech giants are closing them all down. However, these things are cached.
Obviously, Apple have these measures in place to look after devices that have been stolen.
Grant said: “I’m a big fan of Apple, their security measures are great but we have provided so much evidence. At 59, my mum was fairly young, I’ve already lost my dad and it’s a bit cold of them not to treat things on a case-by-case basis.”
Nearly half of people who shop online have had some kind of problem with their purchases in the last two years. That’s according to Which!, who showed that 46% of people were left vaguely unsatisfied by their online shopping experience.
34% of those polled said they’d had issues with Amazon, and 29% had a bone to pick with eBay. So what are people most upset about? Mostly, the problems are with deliveries arriving later than expected or not turning up at all. Other issues concerned faulty goods and packages being left outside their house without the customer’s permission.
It also found that we have no clue about our consumer rights when we shop online. After all, do YOU know what the Distance Selling Regulations are? (No, me neither). Apparently, DSRs state that you have seven days to cancel your order – from clicking your mouse until the day after you receive your package. You’re also entitled to information about the seller, and if you’re sent duff items, the retailer has to pay the postage by law.
Consumer powerhouse Ricardo Lloyd said: ‘With people increasingly shopping online and millions experiencing problems with their purchases, it is vital that consumers know their rights on late deliveries and faulty products.’
So if you’re one of the 46%, you can swot up on your consumer rights here.
M&S, when it’s not designing unattractive middle aged lady clothes and selling prawn sandwiches, is now hoping to compete with the banking big guns with a new free current account.
Up until now, M&S Bank, which is owned by HSBC, has only offered premium access accounts which offer a variety of cosy middle class perks, like coffee vouchers, travel insurance and access to a nice savings account with a 6% rate.
Free current account customers will have to buy their own coffee, but the deal isn’t half bad. You get an automatic £100 M&S gift card for switching, and account holders can earn M&S loyalty points when they use their debit card in store. There’s also a £500 overdraft, the first £100 of which is interest free.
M&S bank chief Colin Kearsley said: ‘Our premium current accounts, developed specifically for the regular M&S shopper, have proven popular with this audience and following the launch of the current account switch service, which has made switching faster and easier, we want to offer the same transparent banking and great service to a broader audience with the launch of the M&S current account.’
Initially, the account will be offered to M&S Bank’s existing customers, but will be available to us plebs very soon. So even if you’re not a regular M&S junkie with a thing about ready meals and wide fitting shoes, you can get a decent deal with the high quality M&S cache.
Well, it beats an account at Costcutters.
According to the AA, more than 90% of motorists say that they find it hard to see cyclists while driving and so, they’ve started a campaign called the ‘AA Think Bike’ which advises you put stickers on your wing mirror, because drivers obviously need reminding how to drive.
This coincides with the launch of a national Think Bikes awareness campaign, which showed that 55% of motorists are frequently “surprised when a cyclist appears from nowhere”.
They’ve made a video about it all and it features a naked man and lots of people whooping.
One million free stickers will be distributed to drivers, which will acts as a reminder that they should keep an eye out, in case they kill someone.
AA president Edmund King said: “Our campaign is definitely needed when half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. hose on two wheels never appear from nowhere so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users.”
Things are changing in the world of crowdfunding and now, loan-based crowdfunding platforms will have to have capital in the vaults to put against the risk of the business, should it fail. And this is according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Basically, if you’re going to act like a financial service, then you’re going to be regulated so that consumers can be protected. The FCA have released a 95 page document which details all this and you can read that here.
Investment-based crowdfunding already has regulations in place, but the regulator have updated their rules so that loan-based funding is covered too. Previously, the FCA thought loan-based crowdfunding had a “lower risk than investment-based activities”, but they’ve changed their mind on that.
These new regulations will set ”prudential requirements” and companies will now need “financial resources” to underpin their business, should things go belly-up.
The FCA created a model for calculating how much capital each business will need, which is staggered for each individual company.
“Other protections that we are introducing – such as the minimum capital standards and the requirement for firms to have arrangements in place to continue to administer loans in the event that the platform fails – should provide adequate protection at this time,” the regulator said. “We do not consider that it is contradictory for these firms to be subject to some regulatory requirements but not others.”
“We do not consider it appropriate to mandate specific disclosures or the form and content of those disclosures since business models vary across the market,” the FCA added. “Instead, the rules require firms to consider the nature and risks of the investment, and the information needs of their customers, and then to disclose relevant, accurate information to them. The high-level approach puts the onus on firms to provide appropriate, useful information, and not to over-burden consumers with too much detail.”
These new rules will come into play on 1st April.
Are you completely neurotic about your health? Well, join the growing army of the worried well who are using technology to plan, plot and monitor every breath with this new iPhone case from Azoi.
We’ve seen enough wearable health tech in recent months to clog up landfills for millions of years, but this is the first phone CASE that can check your blood pressure while you’re on the move.
The Wello case looks like an ordinary, boring black phone protector, but inside there are multi-purpose sensors that can accurately measure your ECG, blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen and lung function.
It’s a must for health freaks or just people with an abnormally high rate of self-absorption.
All you need to do is hold it in your hand, wait a minute and see whether it flashes red and starts beeping the Funeral March. (Actually, your readings are transferred to an app, which you can show to the doctor when you arrive at A&E, clutching your chest.)
The Wello case is out this summer and will cost £120 – which would probably be better spent on pies because you’re going to DIE ANYWAY.
As interest rates celebrate five years at their historic low, savers are commiserating five years of complete pants deposit rates. One way to combat microscopic returns could be to invest in peer to peer lending- an industry reporting massive growth in the last year. However, despite the better returns, and improved protection, new figures suggest over eight in ten (84%) consumers would not invest their money with a peer-to-peer lender.
Official figures show the UK’s peer-to-peer lending sector increased by 121% during 2013, yet new figures from uSwitch.com show that only 2% of savers are currently using a peer-to-peer lending platform.
Mostly, consumers are put off by the lack of regulation and statutory protection- almost six in ten consumers (59%) are reluctant to use a peer-to-peer lender because the industry is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and four in ten (39%) say that it is because it is not regulated by the FCA. A further half (49%) are sceptical about using peer-to-peer lenders simply because they don’t know enough about them.
However, regulatory changes are coming to the peer to peer market in April, but this still won’t satisfy some customers. A quarter of those surveyed (25%) don’t want to lend money if they don’t know where it’s going, and one in ten (9%) don’t want to use an online platform.
Jafar Hassan, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, said: “While the take up of peer-to-peer lending has been low so far, regulation should provide additional peace of mind. But to encourage more widespread adoption, peer-to-peer lenders need to convince consumers that their money is safe, and they can’t simply rely on regulation to do this.
It seems the risk/reward balance needs to tip more in order for more people to get on board with peer to peer. But given savings rates are so pitiful, what are people doing with their money? Some are investing in cash ISAs, although rates this year have so far proven lower than those available last year, and tax relief on nothing is not worth a fat lot. Interestingly, however, 43% of those surveyed are using current accounts to earn interest, such as the Santander 123 cashback account or the Nationwide 5% account. Ten per cent of people have given up on all kinds of formal banking and have stashed their cash in a piggy bank at home.
So what do you do with your spare cash?
The Co-operative are having a terrible time, what with a scandal or two, losing a lot of money and they’re selling off their farms. However, they can’t just admit defeat. They’ve got to do something about it in a bid to revive themselves.
It seems the Co-op think success lies in convenience and they’re set to double the number of convenience shops they have, to around 4,000 in the next five years.
The company’s retail chief executive, Steve Murrells, wants to turn around the Co-op’s food business and said that he’d be overseeing an expansion that would double its capital expenditure to around £300m a year, as well as investing in cutting prices, smartening the stores up and growing their range of own brand products.
There will be 150 Co-ops opening per year, with that target looking to increase if all goes according to plan as Murrells hopes to become the UK’s “leading store retailer”. ”We want to have a shop on every corner in every community around the country,” Murrells said.
You’ll have to fight Tesco for it.
You know what it’s like – you’re a train guard and you think ‘I know, I’ll just go to Sainsbury’s for a can of Rubicon and a bag of Mini Cheddars’ just as rush hour hits.
That’s what one Southeastern Trains employee did yesterday, leaving passengers on the 19.53 to Hastings high and dry for an hour while he went on his break. Passengers were told over the tannoy that the reason for the delay was because ‘the guard could not be found.’
Soon afterwards, he was spotted in Sainsbury’s. He driver relayed that news to the passengers, who were understandably delighted. The delay caused the train to be cancelled and passengers had to be shunted onto another train.
When that train eventually left, it contained three train loads of delayed and harassed commuters who wanted to KILL HIM.
It’s the latest in a catalogue of disasters for Southeastern Trains, who came second from last in a recent Which! customer service poll. Furious customers have called them ‘a rip off’ and denounced them for their ‘poor service’.
Southeastern blabbed: ‘The shift timing was thrown out of place because of a knock-on effect of earlier delays, and we didn’t have a standby conductor available to work the train in his place.’
But Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings, took a dim view, and said: ‘It has been a very disappointing experience. Southeastern must up their game if they want to get their franchise renewed.’
The Financial Conduct Authority are very please with themselves, saying that all the major banks on British high streets have made great improvements when it comes to the hard-sell, either replacing or substantially changing the financial incentive schemes which were the cause of mis-selling huge numbers of products.
A number of fines doled out to banks have been influential in changing their cultures – in December, Lloyds were hit with a £28million penalty by FCA after the bank were found to be pushing staff to hard, which resulted in the selling of unsuitable products to customers.
In the latest review, the FCA says that they have found significant improvements at many finance firms and they’re going to keep at them, to ensure that the work they’ve done doesn’t come unstuck and so that further improvements can be made.
Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA said: “Eighteen months ago we gave the industry a wake-up call and it recognised that a poor incentive culture had helped push bad sales practice, which led to mis-selling. We’ve seen some good progress but it is going to take time to see whether the changes firms have made to incentive schemes and their controls stick, and whether good beginnings are part of genuine cultural change.”
“Consumers can be assured that this remains an area that we will be watching closely to ensure poor practice doesn’t return.”
The FCA has identified the areas where banks can better manage incentive schemes, such as checking for increased trends in individual’s sales patterns, or by doing more to correct poor sales behaviour in face-to-face conversations. Importantly, banks are advised that staff should be told that sales bonuses can also be affected negatively by mis-selling, so it isn’t worth staff members simply trying to flog as much as possible without proper conduct.
The watchdog have also warned banks that they shouldn’t replace bonus schemes with other performance management measures which put the same amount and type of pressure on staff. And, it seems to be working with a number of firms changing the way they sell. Barclays, for example, have stopped sales incentives altogether.
However, while the public are still receiving cold calls and emails from branches, there’s still loads to be done. Could this possibly be the end of the hard-sell, or are the banks just playing nicely until the FCA leave them alone?
If you think you weren’t being exploited enough by advertisers, think again.
Moneysupermarket.com are hoping to develop a new revenue stream worth millions, by selling consumer data from approximately a third of the UK.
Advertisers will have access to a wealth of personal data, if these plans go ahead. Moneysupermarket revealed that their financial growth over the next 12 months would be driven by the exploitation of the company’s data and users.
“The data asset in Moneysupermarket is a real foundation for growth,” said Peter Plumb, chief executive. “I don’t think there’s any other business out there that has the breadth and depth of quote data that we have.”
The company, whose revenue passed £225 million in 2013, expect that they can rake in around £10 million from this, but stress that it wants to offer trend data rather than sell off individual customer data.
Now throw your internet into the sea. We’re all for sale basically.