“… but this is Iceland here”

… to say it with “my”, i.e. the German, secretary of foreign affairs.

Last Friday I was trying to (SWIFT-)transfer money out of the country in order to pay some goods I had ordered. It took nearly half an hour to get through the whole procedure. Not only did I have to fill out parts of a form that my bank knows full well (such as my address and other details), but I also was required to give a reason for the transfer etc … long idle times of waiting for some printouts (or whatever the clerk was doing at her computer) …

In one word: ridiculous.

I know that this is one of the reactions of Icelandic authorities to the fact that banksters and other shady people have been funneling money out of the country shortly before, at the peak and shortly after the “kreppa” (roughly: crisis) precipitated. However, these people were really transferring huge sums to evade the Icelandic tax system and so on. The money in my bank account has already been taxed, though. Besides, we’re not talking millions – neither in Krona nor Euro. So how does that compare to those banksters, dear authorities?

Apparently it is still possible to funnel money out of the country “unseen” by using one’s credit card. Unfortunately (not really though) I returned mine in March. The reason for this was that the credit card doesn’t work like credit cards should work (and works) in other countries such as Germany. But the banks are clearly trying to force you into using credit cards as is evident from the low (25000 ISK; a little more than 150 EUR) daily allowance for withdrawal at the ATM, long queues inside the bank for bigger withdrawals and the scrutiny with which international transfers are treated.

Mind you, all of this wouldn’t bother me as much if it was less ridiculous. Example: if I could lift the limit for withdrawals at the ATM at my discretion through the Internet banking site things wouldn’t look so bleak. And while at it, why not allow your customer to “schedule” an international transfer and enter all details and then come to the bank to do the final step? – if that bureaucracy is at all needed …
Both of these ideas would enable the customer to spend as little time in the queue waiting. Perhaps the service agents at the banks are quite contend with the silly procedure they make everyone go through, but it’s actually wasting my time as well as yours 👿

// Oliver

This entry was posted in EN, Island/Iceland/Ísland, Thoughts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “… but this is Iceland here”

  1. Corrine says:

    Sounds like job security for the bankers and bureaucrats.

  2. Einar Jón says:

    I routinely transferred money from Iceland to an Indian account in my wife’s name while I was in India using only my online banking site (2008-2010). Usually $2000 at a time, every couple of months. Also transferred €3-600 to German banks a few times, and it was never an issue (last one was in February).

    I think the last time I physically entered a bank for banking issues (other than picking up a new Debit/Credit card, etc.) was over 3 years ago.

  3. Oliver says:

    Wow, lucky you.

  4. Einar Jón says:

    I wasn’t trying to brag – just pointing out that if I could do it online, so should you…
    Are you transferring millions ISK at a time, or is your bank just bass-ackward?

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