Automated Clearing House (ECACH) to launch in Saint Lucia

The commercial banks in the countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) will soon have a more secure, faster and more efficient payment transfer system that will allow financial institutions to exchange cheques electronically.

The banks have collaborated with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) to establish the Eastern Caribbean Automated Clearing House (ECACH) which was launched on a country by country basis and will begin in St Lucia on Wednesday 18th February.

The ECACH will allow financial institutions in Saint Lucia to capture images of the front and back of each cheque, and the code line (also called the MICR Line) data at the bottom of the cheque. The images and code line information will then be transmitted between financial institutions. This shift to image-based clearing in the ECCU will not only improve efficiency but will also allow financial institutions to introduce new services that provide faster and more convenient access to cheque images.

The ECACH will offer customers the benefit of having their cheques settled within a shorter timeframe. In addition, cheques drawn on a commercial bank in one participating country but processed at a commercial bank in another participating country will be cleared in the same timeframe as cheques drawn and processed at commercial banks in the same country.

With the new system, customers will have to ensure that sufficient funds are available in their accounts to cover all cheques at the time they are issued.

Countries all around the world have already moved or are moving towards electronic forms of cheque processing. This move by the commercial banks in the ECCU will ensure that the ECCU clearing system keeps pace with global trends. It is also in keeping with the banks’ thrust to offer improved services to their customers.

Participating banks include: 1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Limited, Bank of Saint Lucia Limited, Royal Bank of Canada/RBTT, Scotiabank.

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