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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved a new cheque standard that will introduce new digit on the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition code line and expiry dates for new cheque books.

Confirming this development is a recent mail by First Bank of Nigeria Limited to its customers titled ‘New features on cheque books’. In the mail, FBN said that the approved new cheque standard will fully take effect from January 1, 2021.

Recall that CBN had earlier emphasized its commitment to ensuring an enabling environment for efficient cheque processing and other paper-based payment instruments through complete application of new and already adopted technologies in one of its recently released report titled; “Monetary, Credit, foreign and exchange policy guidelines for fiscal years 2020/2021’’. Some of the highlights of the new cheque standard contained in the report are;

  1. Cheque Clearing: The Bank shall continue to improve the clearing infrastructure to increase the efficiency of the system. The cheque truncation system shall continue to be used for the exchange of images of the instruments and Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) data. The cheque clearing cycle remains T+1 and maximum cap on cheque at N10.0 million. The Bank will continue to take necessary steps to achieve a clearing cycle of T+0.
  2. Cheque Standards and Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme: The Bank has approved the revised Nigeria Cheque Standards (NCS) and Nigeria Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme (NICPAS), to improve the safety and efficiency of the clearing system. Notable changes in the revised Standards include introduction of Quick Response (QR) Code for faster verification of cheque details, expiry date of printed cheque booklet and clear zone at the back of the cheque.

The new and old cheque Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Guidelines for Fiscal Years 2020/2021 standards would run concurrently till September 1, 2020. Thereafter, only cheques that conform with the new standards would be allowed in the clearing system.

The Bank shall continue to conduct annual accreditation of the Nigeria cheque printers and cheque personalizers, in line with the provisions of the revised NICPAS.

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