Cheque bounce risk service goes live on Al Etihad Credit Bureau's website

The app version of the ChequeScore service was unveiled in February and has so far scanned cheques worth $221m

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Al Etihad Credit Bureau’s (AECB) ChequeScore service, which allows businesses and individuals to instantly assess the risk of a cheque bouncing, is now live on the bureau’s website.

ChequeScore, which covers cheques issued by UAE-licensed banks and calculates the issuer’s credit score, payment behaviour, cheque issuance and clearance history in real time, was unveiled as an app in February and went through months of trial testing before launch, the credit bureau said in a statement on Tuesday.

The website version of the ChequeScore service “showcases more access and interaction possibilities for users, with user traffic projected to rise tenfold”, AECB said.

The total value of all cheques scanned using the app amounts to more than Dh815 million ($221.9m), according to the statement.

“It serves to lower the number of bounced cheques and provides a push for financial accountability,” the credit bureau said.

In October 2020, the UAE Cabinet updated the country’s Federal Law on Commercial Transactions with several new provisions aimed at discouraging criminal lawsuits against people and businesses over bouncing cheques.

The updated law, which came into effect across the country on January 2 this year, redefines crimes involving bounced cheques and the issuance of cheques without value.

Under the amendments, the Central Bank of the UAE, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Justice introduced changes relating to the partial payment of cheques and toughened administrative penalties in cases when they are issued without funds.

The scope for criminalisation of bounced cheques owing to insufficient funds has been narrowed and confined to cases of bad faith and other cheque crimes.

The ChequeScore mobile app has been downloaded 21,532 times, the AECB said.

It is available for iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded from their respective app stores.

The bureau charges a fee of Dh10 plus VAT to assess each cheque. A user can register for the ChequeScore app with an email address and phone number.

Once a user registers on ChequeScore, they can scan a cheque, upload an image of it or enter the information manually.

Details are then sent to AECB’s credit database and the user will immediately be shown the cheque’s score ― which ranges from 1 per cent to 99 per cent and indicates the probability of a cheque that could bounce in the next nine months.

The cheque score is also colour-coded: a low probability of bouncing is green, medium is amber and high is represented in red, the credit bureau said.

During the trial period, more than 11,000 cheques with a total value of Dh788m were scanned through the mobile app, it added.

There were 21 million cheques issued in the UAE last year, with an average value of Dh51,000 per cheque, the central bank’s image cheque clearing system shows.

Bounced cheques from individuals and companies were cumulatively worth Dh41.6 billion in 2021.

Updated: April 19, 2022, 8:13 AM