Why do electronic fund transfers take so long?
September 14, 2005 12:04 PM Subscribe
I'm a freelance web developer, and I've recently set up a PayPal business-level account to take payment from clients who prefer that method. But I'm growing more and more upset with the fact that it inevitably takes about a week from the day I get the notice of pending payment for the money to actually show up in my PayPal account, and another 4-5 days to get it out and into my bank account. What's the holdup?
There are two reasons why the amount of "processing time" makes no sense to me:
First, the transfer is entirely electronic. That means, basically, that it comes down to making some database queries and shuffling some packets. I make my living building systems that make database queries and shuffle packets, so I know it doesn't take that long.
Second, I've Googled a bit, and while nothing directly relevant came up aside from some vague hand-waving about "processing time", the same search brought up plenty of hits about the Check 21 law, all of which say that while it used to take 3-4 days for a check to clear, now they ought to clear pretty much immediately (according to government info on Check 21, "within hours").
The second point there is a bit more important to me, since a couple of bank personnel I've spoken with have replied that "we have to do the paperwork on the transaction". Yet it seems to me that there's not much difference between cashing a check and moving some money online; if one can be cleared immediately, the other should be too. If one takes "3-4 business days" due to alleged paperwork, the other should too.
What's going on here?