What is a Bank Transfer?

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Moving money from one account to another does not have to be difficult. You can do so fast, and even for free, through bank transfers. So, what is a bank transfer? How does it work? What are its benefits? These are some questions we'll answer in this post.

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Mark S.
Jul 26, 23 · 8 min read
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From convenience to security, many factors are crucial when sending money. There are many ways to do this, such as by issuing a check. However, if you're looking for something more convenient, bank transfer is the way to go.

Whether it is for personal or business needs, domestic or international transactions, bank transfers can be your saviour. The fees and timeframe for processing payments may differ from bank to bank, but at its core, the process works similarly across different banks.

Understanding the basics of bank transfers

In a nutshell, a bank transfer is a money transfer method. It refers to a broad category of moving money from one account to another. Bank transfers are among the most popular forms of cashless payments in modern banking.

You can do this through a bank's mobile app, which means you can transfer money anytime and anywhere. Alternatively, customers can also visit the physical branch of their bank to initiate a financial transfer.

One of the most popular types is Automated Clearing House or ACH transfer. These are electronic transactions that happen through the ACH network. Compared to wire transfers, using the ACH as a payment method is often more cost-efficient.

Aside from ACH, processing can also happen through the SWIFT network. Global banks use the latter as a secure messaging system. Instead of directly sending money, the SWIFT network will send payment order from bank to bank. You'll be asked to provide a SWIFT code to proceed with your transaction.

More so, bank transfers in the UK can also happen through CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System). CHAPS provides a person or business the opportunity to send and receive money on the same day. If you're processing high-value financial transactions, and you want to process the money order quickly, CHAPS is a great choice.

How does it work?

In theory, the way bank transfers work is fairly straightforward. Let's break down the process below:

  1. Initiate a request by providing the necessary information. Provide details like the account number and name of the recipient.
  2. Your bank will then verify the availability of funds before you can send money. You must have enough funds in your account.
  3. The bank debits the amount you'll send from your account balance.
  4. Your bank will now send a transfer instruction to direct the money to the bank of the recipient.
  5. The recipient will receive the amount as a credit to his or her account. This can be instant or within the next business day.
  6. The bank notifies the sender and the recipient.

Wire transfer vs bank transfer

A common mistake most people commit is using bank and wire transfers interchangeably. While they're both popular payment methods, they have distinct characteristics.

One of their main differences is with their purpose. In most cases, a wire transfer is best when you need to pay a large amount to an international recipient. On the other hand, a bank transfer is often for paying routine transactions, such as bill payments.

More so, bank transfers happen between two banks. On the other hand, wire transfers can facilitate payments to other financial institutions.

Lastly, there can also be differences in the cost to send money. Wire transfers are often more expensive. The fees can vary depending on the bank or location of the sender and recipient.

Benefits of bank transfers

Cash, checks, and money orders are traditionally used for financial transactions. However, bank customers found a better alternative — bank transfers.

Whether you need to settle payment or move money to your second account, bank transfers offer numerous benefits, including the following:

  • Secure Payment Method: These transfers happen within a secure banking system, so you can be confident of safety. Send and receive payments with peace of mind, knowing you're using a secure network.
  • Quick Processing: Sending money is almost instantaneous. The recipient will have the funds in one to five business days. You don't need to be in a physical branch to proceed with the payment or transfer.
  • Global Reach: This kind of money transfer defies geographical boundaries. You can transfer funds and make payments to international recipients. This can be especially beneficial to those in global retails or business.
  • Easily Track Transactions: Send and receive money without worries knowing you can track the transactions. Your bank may provide status updates and notifications. Getting in touch with customer support is also an option to track the status of the money sent.

Protecting customer information during bank transfers

The credentials used to access online bank accounts can be prone to interception. As such, banks often implement state-of-the-art features, including two-factor authentication and encryption. This way, they can be sure that only the account owner has access.

In addition, banks adhere to data privacy laws and invest in employee training. They also regularly conduct system audits to ensure security.


Overall, bank transfers provide a secure and convenient way to send and receive money. The fees and processing time can vary from bank to bank.

How to initiate a request to send money?

Submit the request through a mobile app, website, or your branch. Provide necessary details.
HowTo step image

1. Authorize and confirm

Grant permission to process the request to send money and make sure your account has sufficient fund.

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