The problem is that (for whatever reason) instant clearing of funds between banks is not available in Romania.
Others have enumerated many reasons and alternatives for this. Here is an explanation of why this process takes a long time:
Two banks need a means to consolidate payments done to each other's accounts. The physical movement of notes and other instruments is just a secondary part of the problem. The main part of the problem is that banks don't have access to other banks ledgers (and rightly so, after all, this is confidential information).
This practically means that Bank A does not have the right or ability to deposit money into a customer's account at Bank B. Only Bank B can do that.
Since Bank A and Bank B don't have access to the other's customer's accounts, they agree to settle transactions in bulk, through settlement accounts. These accounts (if Bank A and Bank B are in foreign countries or dealing in foreign currencies, these accounts are called Nostro and Vostro, Italian for "ours" and "yours") are held normally with a central clearing house which is an entity whose purpose is to settle payments between banks.
It is common practice that the clearing house is the central bank of that country or jurisdiction.
For practical reasons and to make sure accounting and reporting is done properly, settlement through clearing houses is done in bulk.
It is common practice to have a cut off time for transactions. Any transactions posted before this cut off period are processed the same business day, any transaction posted after this period is processed during the next business day. The transaction cut off time depends on the clearing house (and sometimes, even on the currency of the transaction).
The purpose of the cut-off period is to allow banks to fund their correspondence accounts with the clearing house to consolidate transactions. Some clearing houses hold all transactions pending funding.
The practical process of transferring money (when no automatic clearing is in place) between Bank A and Bank B goes as follows:
Simplified for same currency transfers:
- Customer tells Bank A to transfer an amount to a customer at Bank B.
- Bank A verifies the details of the recipient (beneficiary) and the sender.
- Bank A deducts the amount of transfer + any fees from sender's account.
- The transfer amount is placed in a suspense account held at Bank A.
- Bank A notifies the clearing house that it has a transaction for Bank B, including the amount.
- The clearing house checks the correspondence account for Bank A which is held at the clearing house, and the time of transaction.
- If the transaction is within the cutoff period, the clearing house deducts the amount from the correspondence account of Bank A, and credits the correspondence account of Bank B, and notifies Bank B of the incoming transfer.
- Bank B debits its suspense account (for incoming transfers) and credits the customer's account.
If the transfer is after the cut-off period, it is held till the next business date.
At the end of the business day, or after the cutoff period, or at an agreed interval by the clearing house and all banks, the following happens:
All banks transfer funds from their suspense accounts for outbound payments to their correspondence accounts at the clearing house.
The clearing house then credits all bank's incoming correspondence accounts for the transfers due to them.
Banks receive funds from their incoming correspondence accounts, to then credit their inbound suspense accounts (to zero the balance).
As this process takes time (the funding of accounts, the reconciliation), it can cause delays in local transfers.
The entire process is electronic, but it may not be stright through processing, that is - there might still be manual entry into systems for reconciliation. I know of some banks that simply do not process third party transfers during off hours (such as weekends) for security reasons.