In the last twelve months we have been moving some of our businesses to different parts of the world. This is to align with our growing global business and enable our customers more ease with payments. I started realising what we were paying in bank fees, most of it totally unrealised by us the average business. But what do we get for that money?
First of all, there is all the currency issues. Today my currency calculator, the global industry standard says the $900 bill I am paying to an Australian affiliate (yes we pay Affiliate fees) should cost me $1,122NZD, yet my bank decides to charge me $1,171 plus another $20 for the transfer. That’s a total of $69 more than whats quoted or 6.14% fees (for what?)
Secondly if you run a merchant account for every $1m of business you do with the bank your fees equate to approximately one full time junior employee. Why can’t they work for you?
We signed up at OCBC bank in Singapore (yes I am mentioning you) and after 8 months still could not get the bank account to work. this included 4 trips by myself to the bank, at least 7 by my business partner and over 10 phone calls. In our final visit even the bank employee couldn’t access our account and after promising sorting it in one hour, after 4 attempts over the remainder of the day, everyone finally gave up, so there we were over $700 in fees withdrawn and an account we can’t deposit into. Their excuse is that they are the safest bank in the world. Of course they are…you can’t deposit into them… unless you have a cheque and they love the fact that you get a free chequebook. I like free stuff as much as anyone, but upon checking, the last cheque I wrote was in 2004. Hello…this is the 21st century. I guess not considering the problem we were told is that we use Apple computers. Their customers obviously do not. There goes 60% of the worlds computer users. Oh well…NEXT
Now this one was fun because my business partners 12 year old had been given an international cheque from his grandparents amounting to $50. The issue for this bank DBS, is that they accepted the cheque then realised the name was different that the account. Now my accounts in NZ are in my full name Michael David Handcock, as were my business partners sons, yet the non thinking grandparents foolishly only put his first name and surname on the cheque. The result of this mistake was 30 mins in the bank, numerous guarantees signed stating that if the cheque didn’t clear he would indemnify it (hmmn if it doesnt clear it doesnt clear-right?) and finally their request to have the 12 year old fingerprinted just in case he was wanted by Interpol I guess. Finally sanity prevailed and they acquiesced and charged $16 (a fee of 32%) for the pleasure.
Problem solved it was on to ANZ to enquire about opening a business account. Now in Cambodia the week before we opened an account in 45 mins with the ANZ, no issue…nothing was too much trouble but in Singapore the Entrepreneurial hub of the world we expected joy. Not to be. The business consultant told us we needed to deposit and hold a minimum of $25,000 in our cheque account ($50,000 would be better), so we got the 0.18%pa interest (yes that is $45) on our money. My enquiry of why we would do that was smiled politely at, of course we need the bank, so we have to indemnify them again. It seems their $9B recorded profit isn’t enough. By the way, if they start making a loss – what happens to our money on account. Not sure eh! Better check that one. Finally considering investing in our future we continued. On enquiring about a merchant account so we can process credit cards in a non retail environment (ie on line sales) our consultant had never heard of such a thing and had no idea how that worked. Finally the banks software doesn’t talk to our universal standard accounting software – but its ok, we can hire a full time accounts person to do all that which is normally automated for $30 a month.
Ahhh the joys of banking in Singapore.
As we leave it starts raining…oh oh… all Singapores cabs stop when it’s raining and the most entrepreneurial city in the world grinds to a halt… no it stops…hmmmn 5pm… now all the cabs are on shift change and dont pick up customers. Of course thats the time they should change. No one needs a cab at 5pm.
So here’s the thing.
If you want to do business across the globe, relax and enjoy the joys of different cultures and watch those bank fees. Yay for banks!