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‘Bank of Ireland’s 365 service should be called 248.’ Slow money transfer frustrates a reader

He made a transfer between two BoI accounts in 15 seconds but had to wait 80 hours for it go through

Anyone who has ever tried to transfer money from one of their own accounts with Bank of Ireland to another of their own accounts with the very same bank outside of some fairly restricted “office hours” might find themselves empathising with a reader called John.

He contacted us to see if we could find out why – sometimes – everything moves so slowly in Irish banking.

“As a loyal Bank of Ireland customer for the last 30 years I am curious that [they] still call [their] online banking service ‘365′ as it should be called ‘248′ to allow for all the weekends and bank holidays off, not to mention [the] telephone number’s 9-5 opening hours.”

John is – in case you are unfamiliar with the bank – referring to the Banking 365 brand that Bank of Ireland trades under in the online and telephone spaces.

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What prompted John to get in touch was that he recently noticed his Bank of Ireland-issued credit card was reaching its max so he transferred €2,000 to it from another Bank of Ireland current account that was in his own name.

He stresses there was “no deposit cheque to clear from a strange bank in, for instance, the Cayman Islands”, so the whole process should have been “easy-peasy, Peter in Bank of Ireland pays Paul in Bank of Ireland. It takes about 10-15 seconds.”

It did not, however, take 10-15 seconds.

“Imagine my surprise then that I had two embarrassing declined payments 68 hours after my deposit to my card of €2,000. It finally transferred to my credit card 80 hours after my instruction,” he says.

He adds that if the bank is going to say the reason for the delay is that it doesn’t work at weekends “then how is it possible that [it] can decline a credit card transaction 24/7/365, however [it is] incapable of processing a bank transaction within two sections of the same bank with access to the same IT infrastructure that it uses to decline a transaction”.

He called the bank’s support service and says it was “of no help in this matter”.

Now this isn’t the only query we have had about delays moving money around the Irish banking system – specifically the Bank of Ireland system – in recent times.

At the beginning of this month, another reader contacted us to find out why a May Day public holiday in some parts of Europe – but not Ireland – led to delays in money being transferred from one Irish bank to another.

This reader was expecting money to hit their account on Wednesday, May 1st. But it didn’t. They were also expecting payments to leave their account on the same day. But they didn’t.

On May Day, Bank of Ireland had an alert telling people that although it was open for business, many banks across the EU were closed because of the workers’ holiday.

So, the question was how could it be possible that a sum of money due to go from one Irish bank to another could be delayed by 24 hours because banks in France and Germany were not working on the day in question?

And – more broadly – given that all these transactions are electronic and require no human intervention, the reader wanted to know why transactions that happen out of office hours get delayed? Do the machines that process the movement of money get weekends off?

To the first query first.

A spokeswoman for Bank of Ireland said: “Any payments (intra-bank or SEPA payments) made after the Friday cut-off time of 3.30pm, as per your query, are processed on the next working day. Once processed, the payment may then take 24 hours (excluding weekends or bank holidays) to reach credit card accounts.”

She added that “where a credit card doesn’t have funds there will be an automatic decline”.

Separately, we had asked about the other query and received a more detailed response.

“Bank of Ireland and the other domestic banks in Ireland use European payments schemes (EBA clearing) to process both domestic and cross-border payments. This year the annual European May Day holiday fell on Wednesday, May 1st, and European institutions including the European Central Bank, which operates the banking settlement system across Europe, were closed, so electronic payments in Euro cannot be made to bank accounts in Ireland or anywhere else across Europe,” the bank said in a statement.

As to why the computers appear to take so much time off – certainly more time off than Pricewatch – the statement had this to say:

“To move money between domestic and foreign banks, European payment schemes (EBA clearing) are used by Irish banks and other banks in Europe. These European payment schemes have set processing calendars (Monday-Friday) and facilitate payment exchanges with other banks through a central exchange during specific cycles during the working day. This means there are particular scheme cut-off times that must be adhered to on a daily basis by participating banks. Depending on when a payment is sent, it may achieve (at best) a same-day value to the payee account or (at worst) a next-day value on the payee account.”

The good news is all this slowness will soon be behind us as the EU is due to introduce the SEPA instant payment scheme in 2025, which will mean payments can be sent and received within a 10-second window, seven days a week. We won’t know ourselves when that happens.

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