Intermediate Series

How Long Does It Take for Money to Transfer Between Banks? Let’s Compare Bank Transfer Times to Crypto

How long does it take to transfer money between banks? In Australia, bank transfer times can be anywhere from near-instantaneous to five days plus. 

The time it takes to send money to somebody else depends on the technology you use. The better the technology, the faster you can send your money. 

Within Australia, these technologies include:

  • PayId and Osko, which can enable near real-time payments, although they’re sometimes limited. 
  • Pay anyone services which usually let you make transfers within 24 hours. 
  • BPAY which can be processed in around a day depending on the recipient's bank. 

As we’ll see, these technologies have some limitations, which is why they’ve paved the way for cryptocurrencies to provide a local and international payment mechanism that’s fast and efficient. We’ll cover what you need to know about the new system in more detail later. 

First, let’s see how long it takes the big four banks in Australia to transfer your money. 

Contents

  • How long does it take for money to transfer between banks in Australia?
  • Why does it take so long to transfer money between banks?
  • Cryptocurrencies enable fast peer-to-peer payments that can instantly be sent across the globe in only a few clicks
  • Last word on bank transfer times

How long does it take for money to transfer between banks in Australia? A closer look at the ‘big four’ bank transfer times 

Many people think the big four banks in Australia are completely interchangeable. They offer much the same rates, provide similar levels of service, and share similar security features. While they are similar, the time it takes to make bank transfers can still differ. 

Here’s a quick overview of how long it takes to transfer money in Australia with the big four banks:

  1. CommBank: Instantly, or within minutes using PayID. 
  2. NAB: Instantly or occasionally within 24 hours when sending to other banks using the Pay anyone feature. 
  3. Westpac: They offer a wide variety of payment options, including instant transfers. 
  4. ANZ: In real-time when Pay anyone and the Osko service are available, otherwise on the same or following business day. 

1. Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) bank transfer times

Commonwealth Bank is now over a century old. Let’s see how the financial institution is keeping up with modern innovations.

How long does it take to transfer money with Commonwealth Bank?

  • With PayID transfers made to BSB and account numbers can be processed within minutes, often instantly. 
  • International money transfers usually take at least three business days and can take longer depending on the country and bank you’re sending money to. 

However, sometimes these transactions don’t go through — they’re stuck as pending transactions. While CommBank aims to resolve these transactions in 3-5 days, it can take up to 10 business days. Also, first time payments can have an additional 24-hour wait. 

2. National Australia Bank (NAB) bank transfer times

The National Australia Bank has a number of security protocols that can limit how much you can send and to whom. It’s much easier to send money with NAB when you have SMS security enabled. 

What’s the wait for NAB to send money to someone else?

  • Within Australia, transferring funds using the Pay anyone feature is usually an instant process. Although payment could delayed by at least 24 hours when you’re sending money to someone else at another bank. Also, weekends can have longer wait times with transactions not processed until the next business day. 
  • International payments can also have a 24 hour delay, with cut-off times differing depending on the country you’re sending money to. When sending money internationally, you’ll have to accept the exchange rate offered by NAB. 

3. Westpac bank transfer times

Westpac has a range of payment options and integrations with Google pay and other tech devices.  

  • You can transfer money through Pay to Mobile, Cardless Cash, BPAY and online banking, which can all vary in the time to send transactions. 
  • As long as you have the SWIFT code (used to identify a specific bank during an international transaction) of the foreign bank, international payments usually take one to three business days. 

There can also be extra fees and charges that you aren’t aware of when sending money overseas and they can be deducted from the money you’re sending. 

4. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) bank transfer times

When sending money to someone else with ANZ, the time it takes largely depends on the method you’re using to make the payment. 

So how long does a bank transfer take?

  • Using the Pay anyone feature, they try to process it in real time using the Osko service, although the payment can be slower without Osko. Payments for today made before 6pm are usually processed on the same day, while payments after 6pm are processed on the following business day. 
  • For BPAY bill payments, the transfers are debit immediately and are processed on the same day if it was made before 6pm. For payments after 6pm, they are made on the following business day. The time it takes for the biller’s account to be credited depends on their bank. 
  • International payments are debited immediately but it may take two days to process the transaction and then it must be processed by the recipient’s bank before the person you send it to receives the money. 

Why does it take so long to transfer money between banks?

While bank transfers have gotten faster thanks to the Pay anyone and PayID features, they still encounter frequent delays and hold-ups that become everyday frustrations. Not to mention, international transfers are even longer and incur more fees. 

This happens because banks only settle with other banks at specific points during the day, and always within business hours. While you may make a transaction at 11am, it could be another seven hours before your bank processes the transaction, and then another day before the recipient’s bank credits the money to their account. The new technologies like PayID help make it faster, but they don’t solve everything. 

While it may be theoretically possible to create a financial system from scratch that makes instant payments across the world seamless, the traditional financial system is built on older technology. Of course, the situation is different in crypto and we’ll get to that soon. 

Why aren’t all bank transfers instant?

We can send instant messages to our relatives on the other side of the world. If money is now digital, why can’t we send it anywhere instantly? Ultimately, the reason that all payments aren’t instantaneous is that many financial systems are built on old systems. 

Finance is more important than a Facebook message however, so more care is given when upgrading these systems and it will take longer to build. When handling everyone’s money, you don’t want to ‘move fast and break things’ as Mark Zuckerberg suggests. 

How long does it take to transfer money internationally?

It usually takes one to five days to send money internationally. Payments are even slower internationally than they are domestically. This makes sense when you think about it. It’s far easier to integrate a banking system within one country rather than coordinating the entire world’s banks. 

When sending money internationally, funds don’t always go directly from one bank to another, rather, the money moves through intermediaries. This happens through the SWIFT banking network. 

The SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system was founded way back in 1973 to enable financial institutions across the globe to send and receive secure transactions. While it was impressive technology at the time, it’s a little outdated. 

One of the most popular cryptocurrencies, Ripple (XRP), was originally seen by many as a way to replace the old SWIFT system. However, SWIFT may end up being another crypto from the Terra ecosystem or a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Regardless, there’s no doubt that the crypto industry is coming for the traditional finance industry and bringing better technology with them. 

What about Western Union?

Western Union is well known for its international payments. Depending on the country you’re sending money to, they can take anywhere from one to five banking days. While that’s not ideal, the situation gets worse when you look at the fees. 

Jaime García was originally from El Salvador, but he fled to Canada when he was eleven, after rebels bombed his house. Now that he’s grown up, he wires money home to his family. Even though he uses the Western Union app, he still faces 12.5% fees for a $100 transfer. 

With more than 2.5 million El Salvadorans living across the globe sending money home to their families and friends, the total paid in fees has hit well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Those wasted fees are one of the key reasons why El Salvador adopted bitcoin as legal tender in 2021. 

Cryptocurrencies enable fast peer-to-peer payments that can instantly be sent across the globe in only a few clicks

The problem with the traditional banking system is clear. In the old system, if the expatriate Jaime Garcia mentioned above wanted to send $10 to his cousin in El Salvador, a significant portion would be spent on fees. Even more than the 12.5% mentioned earlier, on a smaller $10 transaction, 33% would go to fees. 

How will the new system work?

Using a crypto wallet like Muun or Breez, Jaime Garcia would pay only 1% in fees to send $10 to his cousin. Then, once his cousin received the money, he could go to a Chivo wallet and exchange the digital dollars for physical US dollars. And it would be free if he used the El Salvadoran government’s Chivo wallet.

“Wherever you are now, you can send bitcoin to anyone with a Chivo wallet in El Salvador, and in minutes, they have the value and then they can go to one of the ATMs and take it out in cash without a fee,” said Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer for the Human Rights Foundation.

How fast are crypto transfers compared to bank transfers?

Cryptocurrency transfers using Bitcoin’s Lightning Network are processed in real time. While transactions using the main Bitcoin blockchain can take around an hour (still much faster than the banks!), they’re almost instant when using the Lightning Network. 

What is the Lightning Network?

The Lightning Network enables instant payments, whether it’s for a coffee at your local bakery or paying a freelance programmer working on another continent. The key innovation of the Lightning Network is that you don’t have to wait for the confirmation times. Payments are settled instantaneously. 

The security is enforced through smart contracts and it can scale to billions of transactions per second across the network. It transcends the technical capabilities of the legacy banking system with ease. It gets better. It has incredibly low fees that amount to practically nothing, especially when compared to the banks.

While banks measure payment times in days, the Lightning Network measures them in milliseconds. 

Transfer of money between people, not banks

Instead of the transaction being routed through multiple international banks, it’s sent directly — peer-to-peer. You no longer have to trust a bank to look after your money. When you self custody bitcoin on your own crypto wallet, you have complete control over your money. 

As a society, we’ve prospered for thousands of years using precious metals as money. They let people transact directly with each other without relying on currency from the government. Naturally, physical metals weren’t suitable for the fast-paced digital age. 

Now, cryptocurrencies are digital money that once again empower people to self custody their own money, except now they can also send it anywhere in the world instantly. This technology is going to change many people’s lives. 

Why is it life-changing?

“The whole concept behind bitcoin is the decentralization — the fact that individuals can take control of their financial health and their money,” said Jaime Garcia. His story is just one of many bitcoin success stories

Is crypto risky?

Cryptocurrency is much safer than the traditional banking system in many ways but it does come with some different risks. Firstly, cryptocurrency has been more volatile than the Australian or US dollar. While this likely won’t last forever, the rapid increase in price has been worth the volatility for most. Secondly, you’re responsible for taking custody of your crypto which can make you a prime target for bad actors as the security of funds falls in your hands, not the banks. 

Where can you buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

You can buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on a crypto exchange like Cointree. A crypto exchange is much like a stock exchange, but for buying, selling and trading crypto instead. You can get started in minutes.

Last word on bank transfer times

Many believe that crypto is the future of money, why not try it for yourself? You likely already have a traditional bank account, so sign up on our cryptocurrency exchange and see how fast and easy it is to send and receive cryptocurrency. 

And make sure to learn more about stablecoins and how they’re the future of digital payments in a fairer world. After all, banking should be seamless and cost-effective so that everyone in the world has access to the best financial services.