I have several financial commitments in SA, and the banks back home have been bugging me to send some cash to fatten their already bulging pocket linings. So this month I decided to humour them and transfer some money into my SA accounts. I got my hands on all my account details, including my bank’s SWIFT code, and headed to my local Nonghyup bank branch. (The following conversation has been translated and edited for convenience. The real conversation took a lot longer, with much gesturing and miscommunication. Think of an episode of Mr Bean.)
“Sorry, you can’t send money overseas,” said the friendly, but ultimately unhelpful, teller.
“What?!!” blurted I.
“Your account isn’t authorised to transfer money overseas.”
“(Censored). So what the do I do now?”
“You’ll have to go to a different branch and open an account that is authorised to do this. We can’t do any foreign exchange transactions from this branch.”
Oops. I felt a little bad about my outburst. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to send money home, but it was just a problem with the type of account I had. So I headed to another branch. After a couple of minutes of paperwork to open a new account, get a new bankbook and a new ATM card, I had an account capable of sending money overseas.
From then it was a simple process. I indicated that I wanted to send money to South Africa, passed my account details to the teller (both for my Korean account and my SA account), and they typed away and sent the money to SA. Fantastic! Though this would have been a lot easier if I’d had the correct account to begin with.
And the transfer was very quick. The money landed up in my SA account the SAME day! I couldn’t believe it. And the SA bank emailed me to check that these funds were expected and kosher. I was very impressed. Although the exchange rate losses were pretty significant. It came out at close to R1000 on the amount I transferred. Expensive, but not much to be done about that.
At least next time things will be a lot easier. Now I’ll just take my receipt from my last transfer and the bank will know exactly what to do. It’s always the first time that’s the hardest.