Banks – The Thieves and Crooks of the 21st Century

Have you ever tried to wire money from one country to another? If you live overseas like me then you can add this issue to the long list of difficulties you will face as an ExPat. Let me explain.

Wiring money overseas via a bank is an archaic process so far as I can figure. It takes 24-48 hours to perform this transaction in the days of instant email communication. Why? Next, you will pay the originating bank a fee – usually a fixed fee but it can also be a percentage of the amount being wired up to some maximum (meaning – its NOT cheap). You can set up the transaction to pay the fees on one side or split them between the originator and receiver in most instances.


But what happens when the wire is executed? Well, unless your bank and the recipient bank are directly connected (unlikely), at least one additional ‘correspondent’ bank gets involved. Guess what, in many instances you have no control over who this is (i.e. the bank determines which is most convenient for them – not the most convenient for you). Further, the correspondent bank has the right it seems to charge a fee too – and the sender has no way to know in advance nor control whether a fee is taken or not! Apparently, once the correspondent bank has your money they can pretty much do as they please. There doesn’t appear to be any set of rules or obligations governing the correspondent. For example, I had a correspondent bank in a recent US Dollar wire to a US Dollar account in the Czech Republic decide to convert my USD to CZK – at an exchange rate of its choosing! I.e this bank decided to profit from me by exchanging my money unneccasarily at an exchange rate designed for it to make an obscene profit. Guess what – yes – when the money arrived at my account, my bank had to exchange it back to USD at another crappy exchange rate thus I lost $300 of my money.

The issue is no one is accountable or responsible at either bank. If you complain to your bank they blame the other. A call to the receiving bank is met with a finger pointed back at the sending bank. Around and around you go with no one accepting responsibility for the ‘error’ made in sending your cash. This is most frustrating when the money simply disappears. about one time in three, the wired money leaves your account but doesn’t show up at all. Neither bank seems to know where it is or if it will arrive and you have to then pay an additional ‘reclamation fee’ for them to work it out.

Yes, the banks are thieves and crooks operating to their own rules with no sense of customer service. Why?, because they can.

I hope that Bitcoin and other such ‘currencies’ really take off. This way the banks will lose business. If I can send money overseas with no fee and see that money arrive at the speed of email why would I ever use the w(b)ankers again? However, I’m not holding out much hope. Once the banks see their profits slipping away they will pressure their politician buddies to stop it.

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