Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

UK banks, and international transfers

Like many UK indies, I get screwed quite badly by banks. I actually love my company account bank, but for arcane reasons, paying US dollars into them from the US is a bit of a pain, it doesn’t work for everyone, and I end up routing the payments through another bank, and even worse, the exchange rate that you get when you have the cheek to just pay dollars into a GBP bank account are frankly not funny.

In short, the banks are screwing us over.

Unfortunately, the process of getting around this is, to put it mildly ‘somewhat bureaucratic’. Now there are such things as UK banks that will let you have a $US balance in them, even if you run a business (and lets not even get started on the way that business accounts are hideously overcharged for and nickel-and-dimed compared to personal accounts). The big problem is, you can’t just go and open a $US business account. The only bank I could find that was happy to do that actually demanded I open a £ bank account with them, to which I could then ‘add on’ a $ bank account for free. Why? WHY? And for the privilege (ha!) of owning that account, I’d be charged a monthly fee. Thanks guys.

Now, after doing some simple maths, and working out how much I’d save over a month with a better exchange rate which I could manage using a proper (non ripoff) forex service to shuffle money from $US account to £UK account, I work out it is still massively worth doing. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last month or so… Of course, banks still seemingly operate in the seventeenth century, so it takes them 10 days to write to you (why? isn’t email a thing now?) to tell you the form needs changing, so you need to send it back, and that will take another ten days and so on… And they want to see your passport (yes really) and photocopies of six months of your bank statements (yes really) and also proof of your address, maybe a bank statement (err…aren’t these online now?).

I half expected them to ask for the squire of the village to send a letter impressed with his seal in red wax before they would open a bank account. And when they do, no doubt they will mail me (isn’t email a thing now? seriously?) a lot of patronizing crap about bank loans and financing, and maybe inviting me to get advice from a branch ‘business adviser’ half my age with a tenth of my experience. Arrgh Argggh ARRRGHHHH!

The real sadness is, this shouldn’t even be a thing. Banks should catch up. There are forex services that exist purely because banks screw you over. Paypal exists because banks international payments suck. Zopa and Funding circle exists because banks loan rates AND savings rates suck. There is a whole eco-system of businesses out there that exist purely because high street banks suck so much.

I’m sure eventually it will all prove worthwhile right?

4 thoughts on UK banks, and international transfers

  1. I agree, it’s a pain. I use HSBC for both £ and $ accounts, and a third party company to do the exchange once every few months. It saves a tonne of money, but it definitely is a pain.

  2. Would you lose potential customers if you charged for your games in pounds when buying direct? Or, is it because the large portals and payment providers use dollars as their main currency?

    1. people like steam or the humble bundle all use dollars, so generally you get paid in dollars, regardless the currency of the buyer.

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