Post Office goes high-tech

Cheques replaced by electronic barcodes

Postal orders have gone hi-tech - you're now able to collect money paid out using a barcode sent to your mobile phone or email address.

The Post Office has launched a new service which allows you to receive money transfers electronically via a barcode. The barcode is scanned in a Post Office branch and you receive the cash payout over the counter.

The Payout service can be used at any of the 14,000 Post Office branches nationwide. It's essentially a modern version of the postal order. It allows companies and government agencies to send cash payments and promotional incentives immediately to users.

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Barcode, not cheque

Instead of getting a cheque in the post, you'll receive a barcode, either on paper or electronically via your mobile phone or email. The barcode can then be scanned at a Post Office counter and the cash handed over. For high-value payouts, you'll have to go through additional security checks and provide your signature.

"Using Payout ensures that businesses can improve response rates, at the same time as making significant cost savings on activities which have previously paid out using cheques," said Post Office marketing director Gary Hockey-Morley.

The Post Office itself has already used the service as a means to send £50 cashback payments to its car insurance customers. Both British Gas and Unilever have trialled the service to send payments to customers.

"Raising a cheque is 600 per cent more expensive than using Payout," said Joanna Weston, direct communications executive at Unilever.