Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Change bank 'for faster payments'

By Paul Lewis
Presenter, Radio 4's Money Box

Faster Payments logo
Faster Payments is accused to being too slow

Bank customers are being advised to move their accounts if their bank does not allow them to move money on the same day.

Some banks still take three days to move money electronically between accounts in different banks.

The Payments Council, which gave the advice, says it is taking "a harder line" with these banks.

One of the slowest, Nationwide, told the BBC faster payments were "proving more difficult than we anticipated."

The Council is in complete sympathy with customers who are finding frustrations with their bank
Sandra Quinn, Payments Council

The Payments Council gave the advice on Radio 4's Money Box programme after it revealed that one bank, Citibank, still did not offer faster payments to any personal customers.

Nationwide Building Society limited faster payments to a maximum amount of £10, one Nationwide customer told the programme

"Approaching retirement we want to get the best rates for our savings. That means moving it around. But it goes out of your account on one day and three days later it appears in another account. So in reality we've lost three days interest.

"It grieves me that the banks can't sort out something very simple. I feel I'm being cheated."

Speaking on behalf of the Payments Council, Sandra Quinn said

"The Council is in complete sympathy with customers who are finding frustrations with their bank.

"If faster payments are important to you for running your current account move to a bank that does what you want. There are banks that do."

But she stressed that several banks have fully implemented the new system and three quarters of online payments go through it.

Low limits

Faster Payments was launched in May 2008 after years of complaints from customers that online payments left their account instantly but did not appear at their destination for three days or more.

Many banks failed to meet the original deadline of implementing the new system by the end of 2008. Nine months later, in October 2009, the council told all its members that it expected them all to allow same day payment of at least £1000.

But three months after that Money Box discovered that Citibank, one of the founding members of the Faster Payments system, did not allow any of its personal customers to make instant transfers.

Several others impose maximum limits of less than £1,000, ranging from £500 at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, £250 for customers of Abbey, Alliance & Leicester, and Co-operative Bank and just £10 for Nationwide.

A Citibank spokeswoman told the programme it hopes to offer the service to by April 2010, and blamed fraud prevention for the delays.

"We are starting to roll it out in the second quarter for some personal account holders. It is a priority," she said.

A spokesman for Nationwide said the building society was "working hard to improve its faster payment offering" but added it was being "careful and cautious" about implementing it fully to ensure that the risk of fraud is reduced.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturdays at 12 noon, and repeated on Sundays at 2100h. Download the podcast.

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