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.


  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. :/
You don’t suggest a solution. Regulation? I can’t see you as someone to promote regularisation. How about you stop using them, paypal is convenient, instant and relatively cheap for international transfers, though stupidly expensive for national transfers.
Comment by Jamie Kitson
Why do you have to use money transfers? I had you down as a brown envelope man dealing only in jewels or gold!
Comment by Adamski
Solution: Use some bank in Finland (except Sampopankki), say like Nordea. Bank transfers to some EU country costs as much as transfer inside Finland.
Comment by Joose Vettenranta

@Jamie: I’m trying to do two things. Raise awareness that UK banking service industry is in fact, crap. Second, write to the “higher powers”. Would you rather me use VISA, paypal and the like because banks are too greedy & stupid? VISA already has too much power. I’m afraid banks have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the competitive world, be regulation.

@Adamski: Last time I sent Kruger coins to fund your medical degree through the post they mysteriously vanished. ;)

@Joose: Does Finland/Nordea support some really easy to use checkout system like Google? I would move my operations to Finland, but then again I am petrified of the high taxes.

Why can’t I operate from some little Caribbean Islands like most shipping companies seem to do…?

Comment by hendry

I have to agree and disagree on some fronts.

My personal banking has been with Cahoot and Barclays until recently. Cahoot takes 4 days and it’s a pain when I need to transfer money, I think this is because it’s one of their terms for online banking. Don’t even get me started on Barclays opening me new bank accounts left, right, and centre when I asked them specifically not to.

I voted with my feet and moved to HSBC.

We use them for the business banking and they are wonderful. I am now transferring to them for personal banking too.

I needed to make an international payment for a conference, dropped my manager an email, received a reply within the hour saying it would all be sorted that day and it was. I have to be honest I cannot praise HSBC enough, compared to Barclays they are a shining beacon of banking delight, always in touch and on top of things, and they even took me out for lunch recently, can’t say better than that!

Comment by Jake Stride