Bank payments system 'confusing'

By Susannah Streeter
Business reporter, BBC News

image captionA quarter of credit card companies cannot receive fast payments

A system designed to make banking transactions quicker and easier has been branded unfair and confusing by the consumer group Which?

Many bank and credit card customers are still waiting three to four days for money to clear, even though the Faster Payments scheme began two years ago.

One in four credit card companies still cannot receive faster payments.

Although 80% of one-off phone and internet transfers do clear on the same day, the amount allowed varies widely.

Alliance and Leicester put a limit of £250 on faster payments, with Nationwide £1,000 can be transferred on the same day, but with Barclays as much as £10,000 can be sent.

Only half of all standing orders can be sent as fast payments and the limits range from £25 with Clydesdale to £100,000 with Northern Rock.

''It's unacceptable that, two years on from the introduction of faster payments, many customers are still having to wait three to four working days for money to clear." said Phil Jones, personal finance campaigner at Which?

''The limits set are confusing and customers can be caught out with default fees which could affect their credit rating if the money does not clear in time.''

Quick money

Ian Perryman is a buy-to-let investor who lives in Southsea, Portsmouth. He contacted the BBC after problems he experienced trying to transfer money.

''I find the system very frustrating. I have several bank accounts and, sometimes, if a tenant moves out and one of the flats is empty, I have to move money around quickly.

"It adds an extra complication to all my transactions as I try and work out if the money will clear on the same day or if I need to wait extra days.''

The UK Payments Administration lists on its website the limits banks and building societies set on faster payment transactions.

''It is disappointing that faster payments with higher limits have not been available from all banks and building societies with higher limits from day one, but often they have been restricted due to security reasons,'' said Jemma Smith from UK Payments.

''If you are a customer and you rely on making time sensitive payments, you need to think about whether you have the right bank account.

"It may be worth moving to a new provider which does offer the services you require.''

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