Tall Security Print is one of five security printers around the world to be chosen to produce a new standardised cheque for Ethiopia.
The new cheque, which is based on UK standards, will be uniform, capable of being machine read and have security features including a magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) code line and watermarked paper.
All Ethiopian cheques will have the same level of security under the new system and the only difference between cheques issued by the various Ethiopian banks will be in their branding.
Runcorn, Cheshire-based Tall Security Print, part of the Tall Group of companies, won accreditation to supply the new cheques after submitting a detailed proposal to the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the Ethiopian central bank, which has spent five years working on the cheque standardisation project in conjunction with the Ethiopian Bankers’ Association.
The banks are now in the process of switching to the new cheques, and of buying UV-enabled scanners that show up the patterns embedded in the paper.
The printer, which is celebrating 25 years in business this year, has already won a rolling contract with one of the banks to supply its cheques and has been working with a papermaker to produce the base stock.
It is now printing proofs for the client and will start producing and exporting chequebooks to the east African country once the bank is happy with the new design.
Tall Group managing director Martin Ruda said: “We had supplied to six or seven banks previously to a less stringent specification.
“We will now continue to develop our relationship with Ethiopia. We get support from UK Trade & Investment in this emerging market, which is rapidly growing.”
There are 16 private and three government-owned banks in Ethiopia. Now the race is on to persuade the remaining institutions to go with Tall rather than one of the other accredited printers.
Ruda said the new accreditation system had vastly cut down competition from other printers. The company’s export manager is due to visit within the next fortnight, and the company is planning a more comprehensive market visit in April. He said he expected it to be “a couple of months” before the company ships its first new Ethiopian cheques.
Formed in 2000, the Tall Group comprises Tall Security Print; Checkprint in Hinckley, Leicestershire; and Lisburn, County Antrim-based DLRS (NI), which the group acquired last year.
Together they produce millions of cheques, credits and secure encoded documents for UK banks, financial institutions, government departments and corporations. The group exports to more than 20 countries, with products ranging from cheques to ballot papers. Clients include Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, AIB, Nationwide, RBS Group and Santander.
The group recorded a turnover of £8.1m and a pre-tax profit of £232,965 in the year to 31 December 2014, before the DLRS (NI) acquisition.