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Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Faster payment promise is broken

By Samantha Washington
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Sandra Quinn
Sandra Quinn of APACS says progress will continue to be made

The banking industry's promise to speed up the transfer of customers' money has not been met.

That is despite 12 banks and one building society signing up to same-day clearance of funds in May 2008.

Bank customers say the system is often unreliable and that they do not know when money will clear.

But APACS, the body representing the banks says that the Faster Payments Service works well considering the high volume of payments.

Little progress

It is estimated that banks made 30m a year in interest from taking up to four working days to move our money.

In May 2008, 12 banks and one building society signed up as founder members of the system.

One of the things we are looking at at industry level is how customers can get the best information possible
Sandra Quinn, APACS
But eight months on, research by BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme shows that some have not even started to move our money any quicker and others have made very little progress.

Northern Rock, Citibank and Abbey have not started to make same-day payments.

The Association for Payments and Clearing Services (APACS) which represents the industry has removed Abbey's name from its published list of Faster Payments subscribers.

The bank told Money Box it has had to "reschedule its implementation" while it focuses on IT integration with its parent bank, Santander.

Other founding members have started making Faster Payments, but have made little progress.

Nationwide building society, Co-operative bank and Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks are processing less than 10% of transactions in this way.

Only one in three sort codes of Nationwide's FlexAccounts can receive same-day payments.

It is not all bad news - RBS, Natwest and Barclays report that nearly 100% of their bill payments are made on the same-day.

Economic environment

But some customers report the service is unreliable.

This pot luck system needs to be addressed
S Clarke, Netherlands

Because they do not know if the transfer is a Faster Payment or not, some account holders say they still need to allow several days to make sure money arrives where it is needed.

Sandra Quinn says APACS is concerned about the how banks communicate to customers about the speed of payments.

"One of the things we are looking at at industry level is how customers can get the best information possible".

Figures from APACS show that as of 30 December 2008, about two thirds of phone and internet payments are going through the Faster Payments Service.

However less than half of standing orders and just over 40% of credit card payments are going through the system.

Sandra Quinn says that the economic environment has not helped the banks in implementing same-day clearance but that progress would continue to be made throughout the year.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday,
24 January 2009 at 1204 GMT.

Money Box



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24 Jan 09 |  Moneybox

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