Banking in the stoneage - mjcpk web design and development

Archive for January, 2009

Banking in the stoneage

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

The worlds banks can send money round the globe faster than I can get to work in the morning, can track billions of pounds worth of deposits down to the penny and they do all of this with expensive computer systems maintained by highly paid technical staff.

With this in mind can anyone tell me why it should cost £39 whenever a direct debit isn’t paid due to lack of funds? The banks cannot, by law, levy punitive fees so the £39 (that I pay, other banks may be more or less) is what they claim is the actually cost of dealing with my unpaid bill. Given that all they do is not pay out some money and send me a letter to tell me this their claim seems a little over exaggerated. This has been quite a contentious issue here in the UK.

Leaving aside the debate on the fairness of bank fees I find it surprising that we can’t do something as simple as adding conditional transactions to our accounts. I can set up direct debits, standing orders and transfer money to other accounts, even setting the date on which all of these happen but I can’t tell them to only do it if there is enough money in the account.

What I would like to do is this:

If ( $balance > $amount )
Bank_transfer( $recipient, $amount )

Quite simple, if there is enough money in the account the bill gets paid and if not nothing happens. No nasty letters required and not need to charge me a fortune.

The computing overhead has got to be pretty minimal as they must already be running their own similar conditionals on automated transactions that would be replaced by user generated ones.

In this current world of financial uncertainty and daily stories of fraud and mismanagement of funds maybe a bank that focused on service and reliability for then regular account holders might be able to do quite well. Until that point I will just have to continue frantically cancelling direct debits and standing orders when I realise a client hasn’t paid me on time and there’s no money in my account ( this happens all too frequently).