Cheque Imaging

Progressive Credit Union encourages you to make the switch to e-Statements, which are digital copies of your statement accessible through MemberDirect® Internet Service as opposed to a paper statement received by mail.  This method is faster and more secure.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Cheque Imaging?

Cheque imaging is a process whereby electronic images of cheques are captured at the time the cheque is processed through the cheque clearing system. Members continue to write, deposit and negotiate cheques in the same way, but no longer receive original physical cheques. The processing center of the financial institution receiving the cheque captures the amount, the electronic ‘codeline data’ at the bottom of the cheque and a digital image of the front and back of the cheque. This digital image (which replaces the actual paper cheque) is sent to the institution that the cheque is drawn on and used for the purposes of clearing, fraud detection and confirmation.

This method makes cheque processing more efficient by eliminating the practice of returning cancelled cheques and the need for financial institutions to send and store cancelled cheques. Cheques are securely destroyed after they have been imaged and verified. You can continue to write, deposit and negotiate cheques in the same way, but will not receive the physical cancelled cheques.

2. When was the change implemented to upgrade to imaged cheques?

This change went into effect in April 2012.   

3. Does the credit union store my original physical cancelled cheques?  If so, for how long?

The credit union is not required to store the original physical cheques as a copy of the front and back of the cheques can be stored in an electronic archive for up to seven years. You can obtain a certified true copy of the front and back of a cheque upon request.

4. Will I still receive a paper statement?

You may choose to continue receiving a paper statement with the option of having your cheque images printed and attached to the back of your statement; however, in the interest of controlling costs and improving our environmental performance, we ask that you consider switching to an electronic version through MemberDirect® Internet Service.

5. What can I do to maximize the image quality of my cheques?

The image created depends on the quality and clarity of the information appearing on the cheques. If you complete them by hand, make sure to use black or blue ink. If you use a printer, choose an uppercase font of at least 12 points. We recommend using dark ink to ensure the printed information appears clearly on the cheque image.

6. Why did the credit union implement electronic cheque imaging?

Canada’s system for cheque standards, processing, and clearing changed to a new cheque image clearing system introduced by the Canadian Payments Association (CPA).  The CPA spearheaded the work beginning in 2007 and it continues today on this mandatory industry-wide change to modernize Canada’s cheque-clearing system through image technology.

The CPA aims to have all cheques across Canada cleared using electronic cheque images instead of paper cheques. This modernization of traditional paper cheque clearing will ensure Canada keeps pace with other industrialized countries in the area of electronic clearing. More importantly, the move to cheque imaging will maximize the opportunity for processing efficiencies for both businesses and financial institutions.

7. What is the Canadian Payments Association (CPA)?

The CPA operates Canada’s national clearing and settlement systems; facilitates their interaction with other systems that do exchange, clearing and settling of payments; and assists in developing new payment methods and technologies. It promotes the efficiency, safety and soundness of clearing and settlement systems while considering the interests of users.

8. Do other countries perform cheque imaging and how do Canada’s new specifications compare?

The CPA’s initiative follows a migration to a worldwide electronic cheque-clearing process. The United States, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Argentina and New Zealand are implementing a similar method of cheque processing.

9. How are cheque images presented?

The cheques images are presented on an 8.5 by 11 inch page.There is key information printed above each cheque including date, item and dollar amount.  They are sorted by clearing date.

There will be five images including the front and back of the cheque per 8.5 by 11 page, printed on both sides of the page. This is a total of 10 cheques per printed page.

10. Do all the cheque images represent transactions through my account?

Images are made available by the credit union as a service to you and the provision of such images does not mean the cheque or instrument has been processed nor does it in any way oblige the Credit Union to honour or accept the cheque or instrument.  Cheque images appear on your statement pre-sorted by clearing date. However, you may have an image for a cheque that was not cleared through your account; an example is a cheque returned due to insufficient funds.

11. Are cheque images legal representations of physical cheques?

Imaged cheques are legal documents and are acceptable as proof of payment by Canada Revenue Agency and in courts of law.If payment is disputed, an image of both the front and the back of the cheque may be required. Your credit union can provide these images including the back of the cheque, from their computer system.

12. Can I get images of my deposit slips?


13. Can I get images of my deposited cheques?


14. What are the benefits of cheque imaging for me?

With cheque imaging on your paper statement, you gain convenient access to your cheques, increased security and ease of filing.

Increased security: Electronic encoding and security protocols make electronic interception a greater challenge for fraudsters than statements stuffed with cancelled cheques. No more worrying about shredding old cheques.
  • Reduced waste: Cheque images will reduce our overall environmental footprint in several ways – from using less paper to the reduction in the amount of fuel required for transporting the paper.
  • Increased organization and easier statement reconciliation: Statements and cheques are produced as one document, making for simplified filing. Your digitized cheques are presorted by clearing date. Above each cheque image will be the date the item was processed, the cheque number and the amount of the cheque. No more sorting paper cheques! These features make balancing your cheque book faster and easier.
  • Increasedcustomer service: Automated cheque imaging is less labour-intensive thereby reducing employee hours dedicated to stuffing envelopes. This will enable us to serve you better.

With cheque imaging on your e-Statements you can enjoy even more benefits including:
  • Less filing: Your e-Statements, along with the cheque images, are maintained online through MemberDirect® Internet Service in an organized, accessible, secure place for seven years. If you require paper copies, you may print them yourself or have your credit union print them for you. They will appear on a convenient letter-sized sheet, with several to a page, making them easier to file and store.
  • Convenient, easy access: You can access your cheque images online on MemberDirect® Internet Service at work, home or anywhere you have secure computer access.

15. Can I still use cheques?

You can continue to use your cheques, but we encourage you to consider paper-free alternatives:
  • set up direct deposit for your pay;
  • pay bills online;
  • use electronic transfers;
  • use Interac® Direct Payment.

16. What should I do now?

If you haven’t already done so, come into your branch and sign up for MemberDirect® Internet Service.  It’s so easy to use!  You’ll have secure 24-hour access to your account information allowing you to manage your money when it’s most convenient for you.  With MemberDirect® Internet Service, you can:
  • Pay bills online
  • Transfer funds to other accounts, or other people
  • Send Interac® e-Transfers
  • Check your balances
  • Review monthly expenses
  • See statements and cheques

17. What are the benefits to the credit union from implementing electronic cheque imaging?

We have implemented this change to increase efficiency, increase security, reduce waste and control fees.
  • Increased efficiency: The process of scanning and electronically distributing cheques can be accomplished in a much less labour-intensive and more efficient way, thereby reducing staff hours dedicated to stuffing envelopes.
  • Increased security: Cheques are encoded with your banking information.  A thick statement envelope containing cashed cheques can easily be identified and stolen from unsecured private mailboxes.  Electronic encoding and security protocols make electronic interception a greater challenge for fraudsters.
  • Reduced waste: This initiative will reduce our overall environmental footprint in several ways including reducing paper and fuel consumption.  An estimated 2.6 million envelopes per year are used in Atlantic Canada to deliver statements to members.  This change will encourage more people to switch to electronic statements, reducing the paper waste.  As well, it will significantly reduce the overall weight of mail distributed, thus reducing the fuel required for distribution.
  • Control fees: We know our members do not want to pay excess fees.  No one does! We constantly seek ways to improve the efficiencies in our system and control costs. This change will help us control costs and maintain competitive fees.
  • Faster clearing cycle: A financial institution that accepts a cheque drawn on another institution often has no way of knowing whether that cheque may subsequently be dishonoured (due to insufficient funds, a stop payment order or a forged signature, for example).  In today’s environment, if a cheque is dishonoured, the whole process of moving the paper cheque through the clearing system and rerouting it to the financial institution where it was deposited may take up to 5 to 7 business days. With cheque imaging, this time frame will be significantly shortened.  To manage risk during this process, financial institutions may place a hold on the funds based in part on an estimate of the time the cheque may spend “in transit”.  With cheque imaging and faster processing times, financial institutions may be able to reduce hold periods.
  • Reduced risk: The events of September 11th, 2001 proved how a major incident can disrupt cheque clearing processes and risk affecting the stability of financial institutions.  More common occurrences such as courier delays due to weather conditions can also affect clearing performance.  An exchange based on electronic transmissions can be completed within minutes.

18. Will any processes for cashed cheques be required for business?

We suggest you review internal processes that involve using cleared cheques to see if changes are required as a result of the new image-based clearing.  For example, less storage space may be required and less manual processing may make it necessary to modify staff responsibilities. Since your original cheques will no longer be returned, you may have to modify such processes as:
  • bank reconciliation;
  • cheque searches;
  • internal reports and controls.

In most cases, cheque imaging has a minimal impact on internal operations and will not require any major changes.