Several elements make up the period between the transfer order and the delivery of money to the account. To better understand why some transactions are almost instantaneous , and for others we have to wait up to several days, you need to learn about the mechanism of cashless operations.
How do bank transfers work?
The explanation of the principles of operation of transfers should begin with the fact that there are different types of transfers. The most popular form, existing since 1994, is Elixir . It is an abbreviation of the Electronic Clearing House – a system of intermediation in the electronic exchange of information on payment orders and receivables. Therefore, regardless of whether we order a transfer via online banking or in a bank branch, the transfer first goes to the waiting queue . Depending on the time of ordering the transaction, it will take place during one of the three daily sessions – morning, noon or afternoon. It is not possible to indicate a specific time for the transfer to exit the bank, as they are different. For example, at mBank, the morning session opens at 5.55, while at Millennium Bank it will only be 10.30 or 11.00. It must be admitted that this is a significant discrepancy. Of course , this has its pros and cons . Although transfers are the first to come out of the aforementioned mBank, the afternoon session also takes place there the earliest. If we order the transfer after 13.25, it will most likely not leave the bank until the next morning. Meanwhile, at Alior, we have until 4:00 p.m., and at Millennium Bank – even until 5:30 p.m. The second stage is the incoming session, i.e. the period in which banks receive transfer orders from Elixir. Here, too, there is a division into three sessions usually starting around noon, then around 3 p.m., and the last one usually takes place at 5:30 p.m.
Knowing about the scheme of interbank transfers , you can verify the popular myth about the free flow of funds from bank A to bank B. We can often encounter a situation where while waiting for a transfer we will hear “What bank was the money order sent from? If from bank A, it will come late. ” These types of delays are not due to poorer relationships between specific banks or an extremely complex process of transferring funds. They are simply a twist of fate – most likely a transfer was sent from the bank closing the outgoing session very early to the one that opens its incoming session extremely late the next day. And if the operation is ordered on a Friday afternoon, the waiting period is extended to several days because there are no interbank operations within the Elixir system at weekends . Any public holidays of any kind should also be taken into account. Therefore, in the case of the so-called long weekends, the transfer takes even 5-6 days.
If we want to transfer funds instantly between different banks, most banks even offer SORBNET or Elixir Express transfers for small transactions . They process transfer orders immediately, and the entire process usually takes up to 15 minutes. Until recently, this was a very limited service, but is now available to most retail customers. However, it should be taken into account that you have to pay extra for an instant transaction between banks . Information on the costs of such a service should be found in the table of fees and commissions of the settlement account.
How long does an internal transfer take?
Sometimes we are surprised that the recipient of the transfer confirms its receipt shortly after we have approved the operation. If we did not choose the SORBNET instant transfer, most likely an intra-bank transaction took place . If the recipient has an account with the same bank as the sender, the entire process is immediate. This also applies to weekends when we cannot count on a standard transfer between banks at all. When there is a transfer between accounts of the same bank, no intermediary is involved in the transaction, so we do not have to wait for the money.
The situation is similar in the case of online payments, where the money is usually transferred to the indicated account a few minutes after the transaction is completed.
Sending money to accounts outside our country is possible thanks to international payment systems, such as SWIFT or SEPA (only for euro in EU countries as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, not all banks in individual countries cooperate within the same system, which is why foreign transfers are among the most complicated and therefore also the longest ones. If we are unlucky, the money first goes to the bank called the correspondent, and only after it has been posted and sent again, it goes to the recipient’s bank. Usually, however, the average waiting time for a transfer is 2-3 business days.