Thursday, 29 November 2007
Cross-border electronic transfers between sterling and the euro can now take place free of charge, the National Irish Bank and its sister Northern Bank announced yesterday. It is thought to be the first time that holders of standard business and personal accounts can make free electronic transfers between the two currencies.
The move follows calls from the governments in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland on all banks in Ireland to drop cross-border transfer fees. Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, welcomed the move, saying: “It will prove beneficial to people who work and live on different sides of the border. I hope it provides a lead which other banks will follow.”
Thousands of individuals and businesses in the border region of Ireland stand to gain, particularly if other banks also abandon transfer fees.
People and businesses in Britain can also benefit from the move. National Irish Bank confirmed it will open euro accounts for British residents, subject to meeting money laundering regulations, as will Northern Bank. Their spokesman said that non-resident applicants can apply by post, providing they supply adequate proof of identity, including a letter of introduction from their existing bank.
Only transfers between accounts of the two sister banks, subsidiaries of Danske Bank, are fee-free. Previously the banks were charging 12 per transfer out of the UK and 10 (7) per transfer out of the Irish Republic. Electronic transfers from National Irish Bank to accounts elsewhere in the eurozone are free of charge. British banks charge 20 per transaction on euro accounts.
Kevin Gallen, deputy chief executive of National Irish Bank, said: “With new technology, the cost to the bank in processing such transfers has been significantly reduced, and we are now able to pass this saving on to our customers.” Danske uses the same technologies for transfers between Denmark, which uses the euro, and Sweden, which does not.