Having moved to the UK from the US four years ago I can say with confidence that the most difficult part has been trying to completely understand the foreign culture. There have been many conversations that I’ve just simply not had the ability to stay involved in; I got lost on the word “knackered” and I didn’t understand who these “punters” were at the local pub – did they just go around kicking things? But eventually it all began to make more sense; I remembered to look the other way when crossing the road and randomly started to greet people by saying “Hiya” (this is not exclusive to martial arts parlance, apparently).
The bizarre part, however, isn’t so much about how you adapt, but comes mid-adaptation, when you look back to your old home and find it strangely misaligned with your expectations. I had an experience like this recently when I tried to send money to a friend of mine in the States. In the UK the banking industry really seems to have its act together; someone just needs to give you their account number and their sort code and you can transfer them money online, instantly, for free.
After four years of this, there was an understandable level of indignation when I found out my only options were either a $25 fee to make a “wire” transfer from bank to bank, or a 10-14 day waiting period to schedule a cheque to be sent out. Unfortunately my friend didn’t have PayPal either, which might have simplified the matter.
A couple weeks after we had worked out the issue and he had received his bank-issued cheque, Google announced a money transfer service using Google Wallet for Gmail in their 2013 I/O, which basically allows Gmail users to email money, making it as simple to send funds as it is to send a picture. As bad as the timing was for me and my friend, I found it welcome news to know that when/if I do eventually move back home I’ll still be able to transfer money with ease, whether it’s to pay the landlord quickly or just to pay back your organized friend who plans group events (or to actually get paid back if you’re that organizer). It’s a good feeling to know that you’re not restricted in moving money; that you don’t have to concern yourself with either abiding by a transfer time period or paying to get around it.
In all truth, it’s about time the US caught up in this area; if the banks aren’t able to do it then it’s great that a company like Google can. It hasn’t fully rolled out in the US yet but that should be happening over the next few months. Supposedly you don’t actually need a Google account to receive money either, which is good because that would probably detract from its appeal slightly. Transfers are instant and free between Google Wallet accounts, although transfers take up to 10 days between bank accounts. So still not quite there yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As for the security aspect, the service would offer the ‘Google Wallet Purchase Protection’ that would cover against all unauthorised payments and means no account information would be shared over email, according to the director of product management for Google Wallet, Peter Hazelhurst.
I know that I’ll definitely be looking into this feature the next time I need to transfer money in the States and I look forward to hearing about its reception from users. Hopefully, by the time I move back, there will be one less thing that I’ll need to re-familiarize myself with.