I DON’T know exactly how many shares are traded on the Irish Stock Exchange (ISEQ) every day.
It could be millions or billions or gazillions. All the same to me. I failed First Commerce.
But I do know that if one company wants to buy shares worth €10 million in another company the business is done pretty quickly.
Every night on the news we hear that this company’s value is up 2% and another is down 1.7%. In either case, you’re talking millions.
Now let’s go to the other end of financial world. Me.
I’m on oxygen all day every day – though I’m not yet on it while I sleep.
So I have a machine which makes oxygen for me.
It’s an expensive machine, costing just over €200 a month to rent.
Fortunately, in this country where everyone gives out about the health service non-stop, that money is reimbursed by the Drug Payment Scheme. The €114 I pay every months covers the nine or ten drugs I’m on.
So because the oxygen is extra, I claim every month and get a cheque to cover the cost.
Yes, a cheque. You can’t do it electronically.
Leaving that aside, let’s talk about the cheque.
When I get it, I lodge it into the bank of course. Because I’m so vulnerable I do this at an ATM.
I did that last Friday.
So that’s all grand isn’t it?
Well, no. The money still hasn’t reached my account.
Seriously. This is Day Eight, and although the bank acknowledges that the cheque has been lodged, it hasn’t been cleared. Eight days, five of them “working days.”
What’s this “working days” twaddle? You’d swear that, at 5.00pm on a Friday the last person leaving Bank of Ireland HQ, and indeed, all the bank HQs, turns off the lights and the computers and that’s it until Monday morning.
I asked the bank before where the money is when it’s not in the HSE account and it’s not in mine.
I’m pretty sure I know where it is.
It’s in the bank. They have it.
This cheque is read electronically when I lodge it, the ATM even prints out a little photocopy of it.
But eight days on, nada in my account.
Even it was an electronic transfer from one bank to another, it takes – the bank says – “three working days.”
Can you imagine Stripe or Apple or Google taking over a smaller company for, say, €1billion, and being told the payment will take three working days?
Nor can I.
Soon we’re going to be down to two banks in this country.
And the government will have a say in both.
Can I ask them please, please, please – can you ensure that, when they’re dealing with lodgements into the accounts of ordinary people that they move into the 21st century?
Either that or go back to the 20th century when at least there was staff in the bank branches who could deal with your problems…