The state owned, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, in an attempt to halt an increasing amount of forged Cheques, is now requiring confirmation form the person writing the cheque even if it is for a small amount.
The imputes for CBE’s action is the recent event that involves 14 million birr fake cheques being found in their Shola branch, according to a source familiar with the issue.
It was previously uncommon in most CBE branches to request confirmation for cheques under 50,000 birr. Under the new system the bank cashier must ask for confirmation even the cheque is 50 birr.
Belehu Takele, CBE Communication head told Capital that the new rule is meant to protect customers from fraud.
“CBE has come up with a set of guidelines for banks to ensure preventive measures to lower cheque frauds. One measure aims to employ mobile technology in the form of SMS alerts to be sent out as soon as a cheque is received for clearing. Another step is to scrutinize large value cheques is to alert customers via phone calls and obtain confirmation from the drawer/payer of the cheque so we are doing this just to protect our customers.’’
He added that the bank would consider complaints if the system is not working.
Some bank customers say the new system could make their transactions more difficult.
“Cheques are used to make transactions easier but if the person who signed the check has switched off their phone or is out of the country the bank will be unable to reach them and that means the bank will not allow the cheque to clear. There needs to be a way to speed up the transaction,” a bank customer said.
According to the banks there are more and more fake cheques incidents happening every day.
In more peculiar cases, fraudsters have been successful at furnishing and enchasing cheques while the original cheque was still in possession of the customer. This was done by obtaining and using details of the customer obtained through fraudulent means.
In the next few weeks the Council of Ministers is going to forward a new regulation to the parliament that will allow a payee to withdraw money from the drawer’s account without waiting for a certain amount of time for the cheque to clear. Under this rule postdated cheques wouldn’t matter. In the current working system the payee withdraws the money from the banks starting from the day written on the check. The new rule has been drafted by the National Bank of Ethiopia and needs an endorsement from the parliament. It is expected to go into effect before the end of this fiscal year.
A year ago the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) and the Ethiopian Bankers Association (EBA) introduced a system that would help control fake cheques and provide homogeneous bank cheque payment services.