Catoid Tim Lee grumbles about the American banking system:
When I was little, I’m pretty sure “bankers hours” meant something like Monday-Friday 9 to 5. So why do most banks in downtown DC close at 3 PM Monday-Thursday? Citibank is a brave exception, closing at 4. That still didn’t do me any good when I set out at 4:15 yesterday looking for a new bank.
The British banks – which used to close at 3:30pm – do at least stay open a bit longer these days, normally until 4:30pm. But that’s about all that’s going for the British system.
In the US system, you get a cheque, take it to the bank that issued it, and they will give you cash there and then. On the spot. Go to a British bank, and they won’t give you cash. It has to be paid into an account. Don’t have an account? It’s easy: all you have to do is to bring in your birth certificate and two utility bills. Don’t have any utility bills because you’re living with other people? Well, sorry, no bank account. It’s the law, you know. If you have an account, that’s great. No you can’t have the money. It’ll take four business days to process the cheque. We couldn’t let people have access to money instantly, after all. Instead, we’ve put cheque clearing in the hands of a lethargic monopoly, the Assocation of Payment Clearing Services.
The banking system in Britain seems to operate in many ways skewed in the interests of the banks rather than the interests of consumers. Maybe adopting American regulations – and replacing our banks with American ones – would make the system work better.