but it seems to me that the banks have a vested interest in delaying clearance. On several occasions I've noticed that cheques which I've issued to people who are with the same bank as me are debited to my account on the day after the recipient deposits the cheque in his/her account, although a corresponding credit doesn't appear on their account until a couple of days after that.
Time zones being what they are, it would be very easy for the bank to lend that money 'overnight' in the Far East, and make a nice little profit. I have no idea if that's what happens, but multiply my cheque by a few hundred thousand and you have a sizeable chunk of cash floating in the air every day.
We all know that electronic transfers could be more or less instantaneous, and for people like me, who run small businesses it would be good to have 24 hour clearance on deposited cheques.