How come banks don’t update my account information on the weekend, do their computers all go to sleep?

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How come nothing ever goes through on like a balance sheet when online banking over the weekend? It always updates on Monday it seems like. What’s that all about?

In: Economics
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Banking hours are generally only Monday through Friday, they open out of “courtesy” and not wanting to lose out on the business. But the staff that checks and manages the transactions don’t show up until Monday.

Banks are reliant on the Federal Reserve to process most interbank transactions. The Federal Reserve processes transactions once daily Monday through Friday. Traditionally the Fed was closed weekends because it was a government entity and the government is closed on weekends.

More modernly it would be possible to automate all of this to update in real time. However, banking regulations are written in such a way that they wouldn’t really work if transactions were processed in real time/over the weekend.

Essentially, banks needs to maintain a minimum amount of capital or they get declared insolvent and that declaration has a really big impact on their ability to function. Banks are also encouraged to only maintain that absolute bare minimum amount of capital and most do. This means that throughout the day they are constantly popping above and below their minimum requirements, but that’s ok as long as they are above it at 8am every weekday. So if a bank accidentally goes below its minimum capital requirements during the nightly transaction process it has a few hours to borrow money from someone else to get back above insolvency and this basically allows the system to work.

Typically Friday’s transaction batch is much larger than the other days, which means that banks might be substantially below their capital requirements Friday night, but this also isn’t a big deal because they have all weekend to fix it.

The banking regulations could be completely rewritten to account for real time processing, but frankly there’s no point in doing that when the current system works fine and if money really needs to be transferred in real time its possible to do that, you just have to pay more.

Mostly tradition from when physical banks were closed on weekends, it’s also a good time for them to do system maintenance.

Real-time payments are coming, but they are huge projects to implement.

Because they rely on the Fed. And even though the fed isn’t a government agency, but it really is, they don’t work real normal people hours.

The other answers are better than mine, but essentially that’s just when the bank has chosen to do their own accounting – and it’s easier when you don’t have to deal with things happening while you’re counting up, so they either get processed pre-friday night or counted the next week post-monday morning even though they happen on sat/sun

My guess for why they don’t change that, is stability. A lot of banks are running on old (sometimes obsolete) operating systems too, same reason

I work at a bank and I have the answer! There are days we call business days and non business days, this dates way back to when everything closed on Sunday for the lords day. Business days are the days of the week when businesses are open and operational, Monday- Friday, non business day are days when the businesses are not open, Saturday & Sunday. So, companies like banks, that have non business days on the weekend, are literally closed. Which means not a single person goes in on Sunday, so no one can do the math thing to your bank numbers.

they do know right away. they have to. them taking their time is all for show. its a song and dance gimmick. gotta try and justify the fees

It’s important to note that your question does not apply to every jurisdiction, or every bank. In the UK my online bank account updates in real time (more or less) all day, every day.

I work with it systems in a bank in Denmark. I have not worked directly with the issue but coworkers have. I cant speak for other countries as this area is highly regulated and i think there is many differences between countries.
One answer is that in “old” days there were not much computing power and you were reliant on the weekend to “batch run” alot of numbers and reports. When all systems are not doing anything it is easier to sum up accounts and stuff when there is not constantly being changes to the data. That also removed complexity in the code. Also in the weekend everything was closed so why would you make transactions ?
Fast forewared to 6-7 years ago. The Bank suddenly got the project of removing this constraint. It is not needed anymore and the customers dont want the batch days where they cant get a correct amount on their account.
The job here was to clean up in old legacy systems and remove the batch jobs that run in the weekend, to run continuesly. This was easier today with improved technology, better programmers with increased architecture understanding and ofcourse the improved processing power of todays computers.

The main issue was that this is the code incore of the bank you need to change. So every system built on top of it has to be retested and often changed. I think this last step was what took the most time, not the actual change in the “core” code.

Why have we not removed this constraint before ?.
Its a massive project and the implications are hard to foresee. Sometimes we get caught in the “this is how we always do”

Tl:DR
Because of missing computing power and for the simplicity we have used batch jobs in weekends.
With improved technology and knowledge we can remove this constraint.

If their server screwed up, all the IT folks had to work on standby to recover it.

Basically many task still need human to vet once awhile. In banks, money is sensitive and there are hackers would hack during these time.

It’s a general practise not to push any IT new services or major update during Friday sat sun. Also network freeze season like local holidays and international holidays.

These are major or sensitive updates generally done on Monday to Thursday.

I work in telco, so it is industrial practise as such.

But then again, once in a while, some stupid new CTO or CIO would do that to “gain” customer favour and most of the time, they would back fired and director board would say no major push on these days again and we go back to square one.

this is how a bank work.

imagine this. you send your friend 10$. on a friday. money is removed from your account instantly, popps up on your friends account on monday.

these are 3 days where the bank can do whatever they want with your money.

given the fact there are a shitton of people on earth, imagine its not only 10$

Sadly because you live in america and america has weird system that even adults cant defend

Here’s an IT point of view of this (EU) – we need the weekends off to be able to upgrade/update/correct/etc our systems. The weekend is the only time we actually can freely take down our entire ”platform” so to speak, and go nuts on it. If we were operational 7days a week, that would leave us with only 4 hours a night to work with (and by 4, I mean when you hit that 4:00 you need to be done done) – and the system would have to be perfectly up and running after it immediately.

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Obviously, this would be a clusterduck because you would not have time to manage any errors/ newfound production issues/ observe systems and logs/ etc. Due to regulations, its is unacceptable that we are offline during ”work time” – some systems operate on a limit with few seconds – downtime of even 1 minute is considered a super critical problem and would make the bank liable for some serious penalties. Other systems need to be brough up within hours, and some have a “one time a day” window – you miss it, you’re in the toilet.

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Shutting down a system and bringing it back up is a nerve wracking thing. Even when you are doing only a restart with no changes. Any glitch will absolutely ruin your day/weekend/week/month depending on how bad it gets, with ton of business people and regulators barging down the hallway screaming in panic and asking a million questions while you are desperately trying to get things back in working order.

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I know this isn’t exacly what is being asked, but figured people might like some more insight into what goes on behind the scenes.

I like how they still charge fees as if they are paying humans to work 24/7 processing paper checks.

Processing. It doesn’t happen on the weekends when no ones there to make it happen.

At the end of the day the system starts processing all of the transactions. It sends out the EFTs and posts the balances to accounts and ledgers. So no one is there on Saturday or Sunday to kick off and watch the processing to make sure it goes right. That’s why any transactions that you do on the weekend aren’t posted until after processing on Monday evening.

I used to work in IT for a mid sized community bank. The IBM System I we used technically wasn’t my responsibility but somehow when something was wrong I had to fix it.

Thank you for all the answers, a serious question to all of yall who know… what happens to your livelihood when these jobs are eventually lost to automation too? What are you’re “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” options?

An extra bit of information that hasn’t appeared in other answers:

In addition to the transfers between banks being blocked in weekends by the federal Reserve, many smaller banks are unable to do internal operations in weekends. This is because they don’t actually own the software or computers that their bank runs on, but instead pay a company to do that for them. The largest company, FiServe, actually does turn their machines off for the weekend (or did in 2017 when I was working for one of their clients)

highly unrelated but I’m blatantly using the small amount of attention this thread is getting to shamelessly plug this youtube video because I 100% genuinely believe in the importance of it’s message right now. Thanks for all the responses again and if you like, please check out this youtube videos about how Hyperlinks are LONG overdo for an update. https://youtu.be/Tpd8tT0BLYA

One of the reasons CryptoCurrency was created.

The current banking and settlement processes are very antiquated.

As a software engineer specializing in payments its long overdue. Bitcoin and crypto will fix all of this nonsense.

The technology that the Federal Reserve uses is ancient. They use Doss and their system can’t even use floppy disks. Too advanced.