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Press note on the entry into operation of the system for the exchange of electronic images of cheques

The Banco de Portugal informs that the system for the exchange of electronic images of cheques between credit institutions has entered into operation on 27 October 2003. This system has replaced the physical exchange of cheques between credit institutions that was carried out in clearing offices. These offices have been operating in the premises of the Banco de Portugal in Lisbon, Funchal, Ponta Delgada, and Angra do Heroísmo, and will be closed as of 31 October.

The system for the exchange of images is innovative at world level, and is the first in its kind operating in the European Union. It allows the participants more efficiency and rationalisation of the cheque deposit/ collection circuit, by resorting to state-of-the-art image technologies, such as the intelligent character recognition (ICR) and the electronic checking of signatures. Therefore, the clearing of cheques and other documents exchanged through the clearing system is now operating on a fully electronic basis, discarding any circulation of paper.

The new system was developed by SIBS (Interbank Services Company), by the institutions participating in cheque clearing and by the Banco de Portugal, which is the entity responsible for the regulation, oversight and promotion of the smooth operation of the SICOI - Interbank Clearing System and, in general, of the payment systems in Portugal.