Whatever else you might say about the US banking system, it is way ahead of Australian banks in terms of integration with technology. Just some examples:
- Multi-check ATMs: Bank of America have these multi-check ATMs where you put in a bunch of checks, the ATM scans them and then deposits them with a print out of the check images on the receipt. So easy. That said, it makes errors. Once it reported that a check I had offered was for $50,000 but it was for no such thing. But there is an opportunity to catch such errors (if you wish — and I did).
- Quicken Online: Quicken has an online and free consumer software service that allows you to check balances and keep track of finances. There is also an iPhone app. The service accesses your banking information and so everything is updated in real time. That said, Bank of America does the same thing too and it can also put my Australian banking details there. So let me just repeat: I can access multiple bank accounts from the same service including Australian banks in the US something that I can’t do in Australia!
- Quickbooks Online: If you are running a business, Quickbooks online is a great way of managing accounts. You can get this service in Australia but it is PC only — operating in some virtual Microsoft environment — and so it is slow and it can’t interface easily with your bank and credit card information meaning all that has to come in by hand.
That all said, one area where Australia comes up better is bank to bank transfers. Here in the US, the best you can do is get your bank to mail someone else a check. If you want to transfer money between your own accounts you are better off writing yourself a check. It is hard to understand why US banks find this sort of thing so difficult when they get other stuff so right.