Barry banked a cheque at his local branch. It was for a large amount, but this was not especially unusual as he often received payments of this sort. The teller, seeing the amount, asked if Barry had plans for this money and offered to get someone who would give him advice.

Barry laughed and walked out; thinking was she told to refer all such transactions to the sales department? Why don’t they know more about me, how my money flows, what it is used for, he mused, they have had my account for twenty one years and they treat me like I started banking with them yesterday.

Barry’s customer had also found something odd happening with his bank. He had received two phone calls in the same week from the bank’s security department (something he had never heard of before).

The security department had called to check that the cheques being presented for clearance were genuine, they were said to be for unusually large amounts. They were not for unusually large amounts (from the customer’s point of view) and, what’s more, they were issued to suppliers that had been receiving cheques for similar amounts for eight years.

The bank had instituted a new procedure to crack down on fraud. Once again, the bank was in a position to know much more about their customer than their behaviour showed. The only thing being cracked down upon was the customer’s feeling of confidence.

Banks know much more than anybody about their customers’ financial behaviour. Why don’t they operate from such knowledge? Because they don’t think of their systems that way; they prefer rules to knowledge.