Money Nous: Charity's solution for foreign cash

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The Independent Online
LAST week's Money Grouse concerning the high charges involved in paying cheques from foreign banks sparked a reply for Money Nous from the charity Community Service Volunteers.

Elisabeth Hoodless, executive director at the charity, quibbled with the advice offered by National Westminster Bank to Ian Herbert, publisher of Theatre Record, to use Eurocheques for overseas transactions.

Mrs Hoodless points out that Eurocheques are useless for organisations such as the CSV as they can only be issued to personal customers.

'As a volunteer organisation operating internationally we were losing hundreds of pounds on conferences in which our volunteers and staff participated.'

She also said that Eurocheques were not particularly useful in financially unsophisticated countries such as Poland and the former Soviet Union.

She said: 'Only Mrs Yeltsin has an American Express card.'

The solution, she found, was to encourage the agencies with which CSV works around Europe to accept Access or Visa cards so that funds could be transferred with far more efficiency and at far less cost. She said that it was the fixed costs attached to transferring funds that were the problem, as in some cases the amount to be transferred was less than the fixed costs.

She said that in the cases where agencies did not open Visa and Access accounts, she had been forced to open a second individual account exclusively for Eurocheque business.

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