November 3rd, 2014
in Op Ed
by John Ward, Doomstead Diner
Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner.
Interrogate harmonised eurobanking, and it rapidly becomes clear that the entire edifice is designed to stop capital flight. A disgruntled Slog investigates.
It's enough to make a chap vote UKip.
You may have seen from the morning's Slogpost several days ago that I've been having trouble with Ding Dong Bank - a French institution keen to profit from its totally manufactured 'success' in the EBA stress tests. This morning I was back in my local branch to ask why - with nearly €60,000 deposited in my accounts there - I'd been left with no liquidity during the weekend, and my bank card had been refused from Avignon to Zabalza.
The excuses for non-performance of service so far have been:
- There is a ceiling on your account withdrawals. (At €150 on €60,000?)
- The IBAN number for your transfer is wrong
- The amount you wanted to send to Poland is above the €6000 limit for foreign transfers
- For some reason, nobody raised your ceiling last time you asked us
Absent so far from any dealings with Ding Dong Bank have been "Je suis désolé" (I'm sorry). But the story changes every time I talk to these scoundrels. Today has seen yet more multivariate change of excuses:
- Your new ceiling of withdrawals was only for a month.
- You need a Gold Card to have such an account
- ALL foreign transfers have to be done personally here at the Bank.
All three have either (a) never been mentioned before now or (b) been contradicted by others in the bank.
Typically, this morning's comment thread was full of more wiseasses telling me how daft I am to have a French bank account with more than thruppence in it. I should have assets and no money in the bank, they say. One wonders how they pay their bills, or buy the assets. In carrot futures, perhaps?
My solution (having calmed down) was simply to treat the bank as a Maginot Line: to walk round it and use people like Transferwise or UKForex. But now I discover that for euro-to-euro transfers within the EU such is impossible without paying fees to go through a bank.
Well just fancy that. Mario has introduced a fantastic new innovation called SEPA - the Single Euro Payments Area. Read this terrific blurb-bollocks from the ECB site:
'The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a project to harmonise the way we make and process retail payments in euros....Retail payments are "everyday" payments between individuals - private persons, companies, NGOs, government agencies.....an increasing number of payments can be done entirely electronically (e.g. mobile, online banking or contactless card payments....[requiring] a clear and transparent governance structure involving all stakeholders'.
Or - reduced to two words - 'banking monopoly'. Go to the Transferwise site, and you will see that euro2euro transfers have to use SEPA now.
This is the European Union folks - a deregulated free trade area in which there is a single currency. But the bad news is, you have to use a bank and pay their fees to send transfers from one member nation to another in euros. The only way to avoid that is to do the deal from euros to, say, Szloti, or Pounds into euros, or Dollars into Remnimbi.
Aaah, the advantages of the EU, eh? Wheelchair Wolfie Schäuble's harmonised eurobanking system. Harmony for the bankers, cacophony for the customers.