Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Banks 'can be pressured' over money transfers

Working Lunch's Simon Gompertz explains how the Faster Payments system works.

Customers can put pressure on their bank to ensure that transfers of money are made under a same-day service, the UK Payments Council has said.

Even if their bank is not signed up to the Faster Payments system, it may still be able to re-route via a bank that is a member.

Under the scheme, launched in May 2008, money moved between two participating banks should clear within 24 hours.

Figures show that the number of transfers made within 24 hours is up.

Popularity

The Faster Payments system was set up because bank customers found it frustrating that transferring cash from one account to another at a different bank would mean the money disappeared for a few days.

PARTICIPATING BANKS
Abbey, Alliance and Leicester, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Citibank, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, Co-operative, Danske (Northern Bank), HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide, Northern Rock, RBS

However, there has been criticism of some banks for putting a very low limit - as little as £10 - on the amount that can be transferred through the system or only offer the service to corporate customers.

But the latest figures from the UK Cards Association show that the scheme is growing in popularity.

In September, some 27.7 million payments - including standing orders and telephone and online payments - were made through Faster Payments. This was 11% higher than a year earlier.

The value of payments made through the scheme was also at its highest level so far in September. It showed 12% annual growth to £10.2bn.

The UK Payments Council said these numbers were expected to continue growing, but there were options available for customers of banks not signed up to the scheme.

A spokeswoman said that if faster payments were particularly important to customers, their bank might still route payments through one of the participating institutions.

The banks would not decide this on a case-by-case basis, but might have a policy to do so in general.

Pricing for this service could depend on the type of customer and type of account.

Membership

The 13 founding members of the scheme were Abbey, Alliance and Leicester, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Citibank, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, Co-operative, Danske (Northern Bank), HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide, Northern Rock and RBS.

New research shows that almost four out of 10 consumers were still not aware of the service, the UK Payments Council spokeswoman said, because many regular payments went through the 24-hour system automatically.

"While many will be benefitting from the service without knowing about it, this research reminds us that there is still work ahead in terms of raising awareness, to enable all consumers to take full advantage," she said.

"Our aim is to ensure that consumers better understand the various payment types of offer, and how they work, so that they can benefit from making an informed decision of which to use when."

Cheques operate on a different clearing system.

Since November 2007, interest must be credited no more than two days after a cheque has been paid in and the money must be available to be drawn out after no more than four days.

After six days, a cheque is deemed to have cleared absolutely and so banks cannot recoup money from a customer's account if they discovered the original cheque payment was fraudulent.



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