Monday, April 03, 2006

UOB Singapore does it again

The two activities any payment system has to do perfectly are clearing and settlement. The order in which they take place is as important as the outcome. That's the theory anyway.

I use Internet banking a lot because of travel and an aversion to queuing and counter staff. Having an upcoming income tax payment to make, I scheduled the payment and a corresponding funds transfer to cover the amount.

Imagine my surprise on returning from a recent business trip to find that the payment had not been made due to insufficient funds. A quick check confirmed that both the funds transfer and the payment instruction had been executed on the scheduled date.

With considerable weariness, I called the call centre to find out what was going on. No joy there, just a promise to get someone to look into it. To their credit, UOB did call back on the next business day, but the answer was not what one would call helpful.

It seems that the "IT Department" had informed the caller that there was no guarantee that transfers (clearing) would take place before payments (settlement). I expressed considerable surprise at this, and suggested that any IT department running operations for a major bank that could not figure out in which order to run scheduled jobs was probably incompetent. The caller agreed that the situation was unsatisfactory, and promised to raise it with higher ups.

He also suggested that funds should be in an account 24 hours before they were required. A sensible suggestion from one point of view, but not one shared by other parts of the bank when it comes to crediting interest or inter-bank transfers, those mysterious transactions that result in money disappearing for days.

The customer is expected to surrender funds before they are required, but the Bank is not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You need to have ready cash before withdrawal. Banks are bloodless when it comes to collection but bloodfull when it comes to payment i.e. collect early-pay late, buy low-sell high etc. Nowadays, any organisation dealing with the public will use the computer or IT to excuse themselves of any mistakes. This will delay their so called investigation and buy time to find a better reason later...I once dealt with a big bank which prided itself on "If you like our service, tell your friends; if not, please tell us". So, now that I did not like their service, I was telling them! Result? They moved the errant officer to the basement to be in-charge of keys in a safe deposit box department. Later on, I moved meself to another bank when I found their service wanting again. Maybe you should try both.