Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bank Accounts in Shanghai

In the spirit of comparing systems, we’ve tested opening a US bank account – ING Direct – vs. getting a China bank account. In theory, after 3 weeks, we should have a China bank account with money in it and 2 debit cards that work. In contrast it took ½ hour the other evening to open and fund the ING account. Truly amazing.

Of course, the bank account isn’t quite what it was billed to be. Debit cards are more typical in China than credit cards, but Tim was told that there could not be two debit cards issued on the account; they could however, issue two credit cards. OK, so credit cards. The credit cards arrive, with PINs – probably a bad sign – and we’re told the bank account is open and funded. I’m told at the grocery store that the card “does not have enough money”. After briefly sputtering (how can a credit card not have enough money??), I quickly handed over the AMEX. Well, they were right about the money part, because you will have guessed, we got debit cards and the money will only be in the account today (maybe!). NOTHING is simple in China; but remember that everything is possible.

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