Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Banking in Germany

Had a great conversation today at work. The guy I share an office with is buying a house here in Germany and had to make his down payment today. He transferred money from his money market account and expected it to show up on the same day into his checking account so that he could do a wire transfer for the down payment.

He thought because he had on-line banking that it also meant that his accounts were on-line.

Imagine his surprise when his bank told him it would take at least 4 days to process the transfer. He turned bright red, I could see the veins pulsing on his head and I wondered if I should duck & cover to avoid being splattered when his head exploded due to the massive increase in blood pressure.

Turns out that the bank offers on-line banking, but all that means is that he can access his accounts on-line. Doesn't mean that the bank has actually entered the realm of modern banking, just that he doesn't have to go to the local ATM to see what's in his account.

So instead of being able to complete the transfer in a matter of minutes, which of course any modern bank would be able to, he's gotta expect that bank to take 4 working days to transfer the money out of his money market account, then verify that the money's in his account, then wait another 4 working days to get the down payment out.

Eight working days.

Can you imagine the money that can be made off of that sort of float? We're talking €20k here, not a few Euros. But the bank involved is barely surviving and can't seem to make money at all...

Just another day in Germany...

Monday, November 29, 2004