In the UK, people believe they have a thriving banking service industry. The British banking system is largely free of cost (except if you’re a business), however when you want to transfer money prepare to wait three working days. That’s archaic.

In the business I direct I typically have to do business all over the world. To do transfers in the EU or the USA, prepare to wait at least 5 working days, fill in forms physically at your bank and pay at least 20GBP. Call that service?

I decided to write to my Members of the European Parliament last March. Only one MEP, Caroline Lucas put forth my complaint to a member of the European Commission.

Five months later, I received a response from Charlie McCreevy, saying:

  1. Acknowledges UK cross border charges are “very high”. Though UK banks are free to charge whatever they like.
  2. I should “convince my bank” that I do not need to appear in person to make a international transfer.
  3. An EU directive 2007/64/EC should force UK banks to take at most two working days to complete an EU transfer by 2012.

So:

  1. 20GBP charge is not going away
  2. Hopefully UK banking Web applications will improve to add a cross-border transfer form. Though judging by the history of how awful British Web banking applications are… I am not hopeful. I also suspect stupid “anti-terrorism” laws have also made this process, extremely painful in the UK.
  3. Down from 5 days to 2 days by 2012… so carry on waiting

The British banking service industry needs to better serve its small Internet business banking customers. AFAIK Google checkout only operates in the US & UK. I would move my business bank account overnight to Europe if Google checkout operated in another EU country. I think we’re still very far from Economic Union. :/