UAE Central Bank issues circular on chequebook issuance

Before issuing customers with chequebooks, banks are now required to carry out checks with Al Etihad Credit Bureau to ensure the creditworthiness of their customers,” the Central Bank said on Monday.

Following a new circular issued by the UAE Central Bank to financial institutions, banks must now complete a credit check on customers before issuing a chequebook.

This initiative forms part of ongoing efforts to “improve responsible lending practices by banks”.

Cheques remain a widely accepted method of payment for consumers in the UAE, despite being phased out in more developed markets in favor of electronic payment systems.

The most obvious risk associated with cheque payments is clearance, commonly known as a bounced cheque. Second to this, and perhaps more dangerous, is the threat of cheque fraud.

The UAE has increased its efforts to enhance overall transparency within the industry in recent years. Beginning with the establishment of the Al Etihad Credit Bureau (AECB) in November 2014, a government organization that collects credit data, information and financial commitments from banks and financial institutions in order to provide accurate Credit Reports to individuals, financial institutions and companies to make informed credit decisions.

The latest Central Bank announcement states lenders must advise customers that cheques which bounce due to insufficient funds will be recorded with the AECB and will negatively impact their credit worthiness.

The authority also advised that new to bank customers can only secure a chequebook containing a maximum of 10 cheques. After a period of six months, provided no cheques are returned, can a new chequebook be issued.

“Banks have been also encouraged to advise their customers to minimise the use of cheques and consider other payment methods (such as direct debits and bank transfers) where possible,” the Central Bank circular said.

These moves mark an important step in continued transparency in the regions financial ecosystem.