Category Archives: Banks

CMB, HSBC, CITI Swift Code

I love to study all kinds of “code”, since it is a perfect combination of society and computer technology. I don’t like to use addresses that is readable by human, since it is not accurate, and a computer code of whatever kind is attractive to me. I have studied the code on Shanghai taxi, Chinese car plate and PNR on all airline tickets.

SWIFT Code

SWIFT standards for Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (source). It is just like an international post code for banks to identify another bank.

Just as there are 6 digits for Chinese post code, the SWIFT is a 8 digit code (with option 3 more code attached).

The first four characters are bank code.

The following four are city name – two for country, and two for city. The country part follows ISO 3166-1 alpha-2, or to be easier, the top level domain name for the country.

Then the additional 3 can be branch offices, with default value to XXX – the primary office.

Bank Codes

Here is my collection of codes of banks.

DEUT = Deutsche Bank

HSBC = HSBC (Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Cooperation) – nice name

CITI = CITI (Citi Bank) – nice name

CMBC = CMB (China Merchant Bank)

PCBC = China Construction Bank

BKCH= Bank of China – bad code

Bank of Agriculture

COMM = Bank of Communications – good name

ICBK = Bank of Industry and Commerce – really bad code since ICBC was taken

This is a handy tool to look up all the names and codes.

Country and City

In China, it is always CN. So CN… CN… CN… for the foreign and local banks in China.

The city code is weird, since there is no standard code for each city in each country, so it is very confusing. It seems there are different code for the same city.

There are at least two ways to say Shanghai: SH or SX.

There are two ways to say Beijing: BJ or BX.

I saw BS as in CMBCCNBS050 for CMBC

Final Examples

For international wire transfer, the following are the best bet with sources from their websites. Disclaimer: Never trust a non-office website like this one when you want to wire money.

CMBC => CMBCCNBSXXX (source)

Bank of China = BKCHCNBJ

HSBC = HSBCCNSH – the best swift code I saw so far – clear and simple.

Citibank = CITICNSX – What is SX? Is it Shanghai?

Old Technology?

When I started to transfer money, I am using CMB Online Bank, and PayPal, and Alipay. It is all electronic, and the destination is accurately identified by an email address or an account number.

Using bank transfer, you not only need to provide the account name, account number, and also the ADDRESS of the bank, and many other information. It seems to be complicated. I just feel the bank system is slow moving – just because of the network effect of existing infrustructure, like SWIFT, it is very hard for other system and more advanced system to replace it. It just takes time and some opportunities.

Mortgage Rate Lowered Too

After the change of Airline Fuel Surcharge, the lower of housing mortgage rate is even a bigger news today. Friends are running round to tell friends that the mortgage rate has lowered to 70% of the original level. That is huge amount of money for many people. All the four major banks in China joined the campaign – Bank of China, China Construction Bank, China Bank of Commercial and Industry, and China Bank of Agriculture… Local banks like Bank of Shanghai also issued news about lowering the rate.

It seems foreign banks in China like Citigroup didn’t response to this trend yet.

Foreign Banks in Shanghai

Another email sent to me asked me about if there is any foreign bank in Shanghai. Well. There are. To be more exact, there are more than 100 foreign bank branches in Shanghai by the end of 2007, and there are about another 100 representative office in Shanghai.

Here is an incomplete list of the most popular foreign banks in Shanghai, with their location and phone number. Thanks for shme

to provide a great summary of the information.

The information below is given in the following format:

Name of the bank branch

Address

Postal Code

Telephone (area code is +86-21)

Fax

The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, Shanghai Branch

F/5, 185 Yuanminyuan Road Shanghai Center

200002 200040
63218383 63291775
63291659

Standard Chartered Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/7, 1376 Nanjin Road (W) Shanghai Center
200040
62798823
62798813

Overseas-Chinese Banking Co. Ltd., Shanghai Branch
120 Jiujiang Road
200002
63233888 63218888
63290388

The Bank of East Asia, Shanghai Branch
229 Sicuan Road
200002
63216863 63210434 63297338
63291813

The Sanwa Bank, Shanghai Branch
205 Maomin Road (S) Room 1501, Ruijin Building
200020
64728731 64728732
64726400

he Industrial Bank of Japan, Shanghai Branch
2200 Yanan (W) Room 1601, International Trade Center
200335
62751111 62751246
62751769

Citibank N.A., Shanghai Branch
F/5 100 Yanan Road (E), Union Mansion
200002
63289661 63201988
63731317

Bank of American Shanghai Branch
F/1 100 Yanan Road (E), Union Mansion
200002
63201491 63292828
63201297

Banque Indosuez, Shanghai Branch
F/5 100 Yanan Road (E), Union Mansion
200002
63292228 63293279
63219002 63292911

Credit lyonnais, Shanghai Branch
F/8 1376 Nanjin Road (W) Shanghai Center
200040
62798661
62798662

The Bank of Tokyo, Shanghai Branch
F/12 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64723166 64723199
64727540

The Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/11 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64723651 64623679
64727679

Sakura Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/5 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64723656
64720867

The International Bank of Paris and Shanghai
93 Guangdong Road
200002
63217518
63216968

Royal Bank of Canada, Shanghai Branch
Room 403, 100 Yanan Road (E)
200002
63202823 63203623
63200417

The Mitsubishi Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/21 205 Maomin Road (S), Ruijin Building
200020
64726383 64720882
64723568

Abn, Amro Bank, Shanghai Branch
Room 1803, Union Maosion
200002
63112268
63112267

Dresdner Bank, Shanghai Branch
2099 Yanan Road (W)
200335
62755458 62191433
62755904

Po Sang Bank, Shanghai Branch
F/1, 260 Yanan Road (E)
200002
63212377
63215277

Bangkok Bank, Shanghai Branch
Room 5013–5015, Huating Seralton Hotel
200030

64396000–5013
64813817

Anz, Shanghai Branch
201/A West, Hotel Equatorial Shanghai
200040
62488877
62480080

The Daiwa Bank, Shanghai Branch
Room 1903, International Trade Center
200335
62755198
62755229

Chia Tai International Finance Co. Ltd.
F/26 2200 Yanan Road (W), International Trade Center
200335
62753448
62752299

Shanghai Associated Finance Co. Ltd.
F/7 65 Yanan Road (W), Hotel Equatorial Shanghai
200040
62489828 62488248
62483798

Shanghai International Finance Co. Ltd.
1376 Nanjin Road (W) Room 420, Shanghai Center
200040
62798281
62798225

American International Assurance company, Shanghai Branch
F/5 1376 Nanjin Rood (W), Shanghai Center
200040
62798568
62798569

Commerz, Shanghai Branch
F/7, Zhonghui Building, 16 Henan Road (S)
200002
63747680
63747681

More about Foreign Banks

Although most of the local banks also provide services to foreigners, and can provide most of the types of financial services, many foreigners still prefer to use the banks they trust or get used to. Among them, let me share my personal experience.

CITI Bank

I am a customer of CITI Bank. They are pretty good with more branches than any other banks (at least by what I know). I use their Xujiahui branch, and the Lujiazui branch often. Their service is pretty good, so far.

Bank of America

I am a customer of Bank of America in the States. When I went to their branch is in Shanghai, they said the account in the States and in China are separate, and the only way I can access my US account is to go to the States. What a surprise to me, but it is understandable. Do pay attention to the same kind of problems if you want to do the same.

Exchange RMB for USD at Pudong Airport

I got an email asking me about how he/she can exchange RMB to USD in Pudong Airport. Well. There is no easy answer. Let me explain it in details.

China Residence

For people with P.R. China residence status, exchange between RMB and USD is not free. The Regulations on Individual Foreign Exchange applies.

According to the regulation, any Chinese citizen can exchange up to 50,000 USD from RMB, or 50,000 USD equivalence of RMB from USD per calendar year.

If you have a valid national ID, or passport, and you have not exceeded the quota, you can go to any bank with foreign currency business, and ask them to exchange RMB to USD or USD to RMB to you. All the banks leverage a specialized, connected terminal to process your request, so your quota is calculated across all different banks and cities.

The problem is, however, there are NO bank in Pudong Airport that handles the foreign exchange business as most of the banks in downtown do. So, if you want to get USD, you’d better get to any bank instead of wait until you are at PVG. The last time, I have to start to US trip without a single USD bank note in my pocket. I am lucky that I didn’t use paper money during the trip.

Citizen of Foreign Countries

As far as I know, there is no hard limitation about how much RMB foreigners can exchange in airports in China. However, if they want to exchange RMB back to USD or other currency, they have to provide the original bank transaction sheet to prove that he/she has just exchanged the RMB using foreign currency. Without the bank sheet, foreigners cannot change RMB back to USD. Please pay special attention to this regulation.

Trans-Bank System Finally Available

China’s bank is always far behind its peers in other countries, while businesses in many other industries are quickly catching up the international standard. I am so bored of waiting in line in Banks in China, no matter it is my least favorite bank, ICBC, or my most favorite bank, China Merchant Bank.

In 2004, I was happy to see Cross Bank Money Transfer Now Possible. However, at that time, it was via a middle-man called Central Bank announced that a trans-bank system for small-amount money is finally launched. That is very good news for me.

Before this, if you want to move, let’s say, 10,000 RMB from Bank A to Bank B, basically there are just two ways: A) cash, or B) a special bank note called “Benpiao” (I don’t know the English name). The second choice takes at least 30 minutes for the bank A to create for you. The first choice is my favorite, although sometimes I have to carry a large amount of paper (cash) and run from one bank to another. Not to mention the time needed to count and verify the money.

The New System

With the new Trans-Bank system, people can withdraw money or deposit money from one bank at the counter of another bank. Currently, only 14 banks (branches) in Beijing offer this service. This is the name list:

  • ICBC – Industry and Commercial Bank of China
  • Agriculture Bank
  • Bank of China
  • Construction Bank
  • Bank of Constructions
  • Everbright Bank
  • CITIC
  • Huaxia Bank
  • Minsheng Bank
  • Shenzhen Development Bank
  • Xingye Bank
  • Pudong Development Bank
  • Bank of Beijing
  • Beijing Rural Commercial Bank

Process

It does not happens automatically. You have to

  • Go to the bank where you opened the bank account.
  • Verify your identity with the bank and sign an agreement with the bank.
  • You will be given a 12 digits special account number.

Then you can use this 12 digits number to access your bank account in other participating banks.

Fees

Many of them charges 1% of handling fee with minimum fee of 10 RMB and maximum of 200 RMB per transaction. The fees charged are different between banks.

My two cents

I welcome this service very much. Recently the long lines in many banks have reached ridiculous level. It is not surprising to get a number with 100 – 200 people waiting before you, and it is not rare to spend the whole morning waiting inline just to get a transaction done. Many of the transaction can only be handled on counter (like claim lose of a card or get a new card). Hopefully with this service, we can cut many of the lines in half in the next few years, although this regulation introduced a new need for people to line-up in banks in the recent months – to sign the contract.

Disclaimer: As I stated, this service is only offered in Beijing, so I didn’t personally tried the service. Hopefully when it is opened in Shanghai, I will try it and report back later.

Exchange (Lot of) Coins to Paper Money

This is Mike’s question, my first answer, and his follow-up question:

Hi Wang Jian Shuo,

Do you know where in Shanghai I could change coin money to paper money?

I have a lot of coin monies, like 1 yuan coin, about thousands. I went to ICBC bank but they don’t accept it, they don’t have machine to count coin money either? Do you know where I can find machine to count coin money too?

In the US, at Commerce bank, they have machine to count coins (quarter) and change to paper money for free. I think there should be place like that in Shanghai too.

Thank you and best regards,

Mike

Posted by: Mike on August 4, 2007 07:54 PM

They don’t change the coins to paper for you? Really? They should provide that service. There are banks charging people for counting coins, but free for individuals. I have no experience about it, but I believe there must be some bank that can help you. Maybe I will talk about it later when I personal encounter the problem or check the bank, and be back with you to see if I can help you.

Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang on August 4, 2007 11:40 PM

Hi Wang Jian Shuo,

Thank you for your quick reply.

The bank can change the coins to paper money for me, but they only accept a small amount.

I have many coins, could be about 5,000 coins, I can’t sit to count that much coin, and people at the bank can’t help me either, I have to find a place with the coin counter machine? Do you know where I can find one? Any bank branch with a coin counter machine?

I only keep paper money in the wallet, it should be lighter and easier to carry that way. So everyday going home, I took the coin out of the wallet and put them in a box, now that box become a bit big, I want to change them to paper to save space. I guess everybody has a box of coins at home too.

Thank you and best regards,

Mike

Posted by: Mike on August 5, 2007 02:34 PM

To answer Mike’s question, I called China Merchant Bank (my favorite bank and the only bank I relatively like) at 4008895555. The CSR (Customer Service Representative) didn’t know it either, and asked me to call one of its branch office. So I called their Xujiahui branch at 021-64273892. Here is what I learn from gentleman on the other side of the telephone line.

It is Possible

The bank can exchange the coins for you, no matter how big amount it is.

It is a Paid Service

However, you have to pay 1 RMB per 50 coins. They said the fee is based on the number of coins, not the total amount of the money. For example, if you have 50 one RMB coins, the fee is 2% of the total amount, while if you 50 0.1 RMB coins, they will also charge you 1 RMB, which is 20% of the total amount.

Time and Location

This is a standard service offered by almost all banks, since it is a service standard (and fee standard) set by the China People’s Bank (the central bank). You can go to any bank to ask for this service.

There is something to notice though.

1. It is not Personal Banking Service. You have to go to the Cashier window in the business service section.

2. Because it needs some time, you need to wait for about one day for them to get back to you.

In Xujiahui Branch of China Merchant Bank (on the Tian Yao Qiao Road and the Zhaojiabang Road), the service is available from Monday to Friday before 16:30.

So, Mike, good luck and be sure to get back to us to let us know whether you successfully exchange the 5000 coins.

Cash on Delivery Still Preferred

Got an email today asking me whether he has successfully booked air ticket via elong.net. The question was, he was not asked for details of credit card information (such as credit card number, holders name) while the system just reported the hotel and flights were booked successfully. He thought it was strange and want to confirm whether he booked it or not.

I checked elong.net and found out it may be a common question for people using websites in China.

Cash on Delivery Still a Good Collection Model

On the checkout page of elong, they have two options for getting the ticket – one is Deliver to door, the other is self-pickup. To deliver the paper ticket (may not be necessary now), they send a person to the address you specify. For the pickup, you have to go to one of their two offices in Beijing to get it.

For the payment, there is only one option: cash on delivery. That means, you have your cash (please note, cash, instead of credit card) ready, and when they deliver the ticket to you, or when you pickup your ticket at your counter, you pay the cash.

Cash on delivery is still a mainstream payment method for flight booking sites like ctrip.com, and online book store dangdang.com (joyo.com is almost over after acquired by amazon.com).

Obviously these two methods are not suitable for people outside China. However, it is a very good way to do business in China. Considering the very low adoption rate of credit card, and even rare of customer acceptance, cash on delivery is a good option. Now, many people have debit cards, but credit cards still have a long way to go.

Why Fudan University Only Accept Cash

Edwin spent 5 days reading this blog to prepare for his/her jouney to Shanghai for short term language program at Fudan University, but still have some questions to ask. Among them, this one is particularly interesting:

Fudan says I have to pay the tuition (4000rmb) in cash (why cash?) — my question is since i have to change such a large sum of money and walk around with it in my pocket, is it safe? Is it better to exchange money at the airport or would I get a better exchange rate within the city? Do banks take traveller’s checks or should I use cash? — I find this uncomfortable as I never carry that much cash here in my daily life so it’s weird for me…

Haha. I can understand how confusing Edwin is to bring big amount of cash in an unfamiliar environment.

It is Common

Cash is still the most widely accepted payment methods. Credit cards are widely accepted by services with better margin – restaurants, bars, shopping malls, many places still does not accept credit card. Even KFC, McDonald’s and PizzaHut does not accept credit cards in China.

Universities are among the slower mover in terms of commerical usage. I still remember the time when thousands of students carrying cash and waited in line to handin the tuition. This situation was changed in the year 1998 in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, when SJTU joined effort with ICBC (Industry and Commerical Bank of China) to issue debet cards to students.

However, it was wired at that year that when I deposited my 3000 RMB into the card, the university get the money out of my bank account without my approval. I believe this won’t happen today.

For short-term study, it is very common that they only accept cash. There is nothing strong here. So just accept it. :-)

Carrying Cash on the Street?

I don’t think anyone would say it is safe to carry large amount of cash on the street. So won’t I. But carrying cash is the only way to do that, my best suggestion is be careful. 4000 RMB is not that huge in Shanghai – many people take much more than that. It was because Cross Bank Money Transfer was not easy before some tools were put into use.

If you can choose, I suggest you to get the cash from a bank (Bakn of China) near Fudan University. You may ask where you can find the bank after you get to Fudan. To exchange at the airport is another option, but there is no discount to do that.

I have no idea about traveller’s check. It is not a common concept for people here, but I believe banks may accepted, or NOT. Check with your bank first. Citibank are here with a lot of ATM machines. You may ask their branches to get more information.

Wish you a safe trip (with the cash).

P.S. Found my picture in the Esquire magazine 2006.02 issue. It is a group photo occupying two full pages. I am not a fashion fun, and didn’t know what Esquire is. Is it a big brand in U.S? I guess so because many said Esquire is big. The Chinese version is named Shi Shang Xian Sheng (or translated as Fashionable Men).

Credit Cards Offer Discount at Preferred Stores

I hold credit card from the year of 1999. At that time, Credit Cards are not as popular as today. Most of the cards at that time are debut cards. But I never experienced discount offering as often as today.

When I went to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at the Raffles City, I was offered again for 10% off for my China Merchant Bank (CMB) Credit Card. All sales above 50 RMB and paid via CMB card are eligible for the offer.

More banks follow to this kind of discount as their selected stores and merchants. This is good for consumers like me, and meanwhile, it is a clear sign that the competition on the financial service is heated up.

Now, the saving rate for individuals are as low as a little bit more than 2% (for one year), while the mortgage rate is as high as more than 5%. The margin for banks is high enough. The credit card transaction fee is also a very good business.

The discount may be the starting point of the new round of financial market adjustment.

Disclaimer: I don’t have financial knowledge. Just two cents on what I experienced today.

US Credit Card Fraud Infected China (and Me)

Yesterday morning, when I stepped out of my office around 11:50 AM, a customer service representitive from the China Merchant Bank (my favorite bank in China) called my mobile and asked if I have a credit card ending with number xx. I confirmed. She told me the Visa organization informed them that this card is at risk of credit card fraud. I asked why, and the girl said they don’t know th reason yet, but what they can do is to give me a replacement of the card. She asked me to destroy my current card and waiting for a new card.

Well. I said “it is good”, wondering what happened with my card. Maybe it was because I have been to the U.S. in April?

After lunch, I used my card – the card she talked about – unconciousely, as I do everyday. The machine reports: Stolen card! It is nice that the restaurant didn’t call police and I handed in cash quickly.

At that time, I know, they are serious.

The News

24 hours later, when I open my MSN, I saw a pop up in the news window – that is the major change of MSN.com.cn launch in China. The news said: 9000 Chinese card holders are affected. 3000+ visa holders were affected, and I am honorablely be one of the 3000 card holders.

Some 9,000 Chinese accounts put at risk:

Chinese cardholders who may be vulnerable to potential risks are those who used credit cards in the United States between August 1, 2004 and May 27, 2005, according to the Peony Card Centre of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the nation’s largest lender.

Visa Card on ATM in China

I received my Bank of America Platinum Check Card before I came to Chengdu. There is a Visa logo on it. It means, I can access my money I deposited in U.S. at all ATM machines here. To check whether it works, I checked the balance with China Construction Bank ATM. It shows the money in currency of Renminbi (RMB). Also, I successfully withdraw 100 RMB from the ATM. I checked the balance again. Only 100 RMB was deducted from the account. It seemed to me that there are no service charge for withdraw cash here, even though I used it on ATM of another bank (and another country).

I was able to check the balance of the card in ATM in Chengdu also. I didn’t try to withdraw money this time.

Benz Taxi Accepts Credit Card

shanghai-benz.taxi-visa.jpg

Benz Taxi accepts credit card and the price is the same.

I took a picture of the Benz taxi yesterday. From the picture, you can see the taxi begin to accept credit card. It is not news in U.S., but in Shanghai, it is historical change in a city where even PizzaHut does not accept credit card.

The price is the same as any other taxi, 10 RMB per km. I begin to wonder it is reasonable? They have to pay the service fee, and equipments for using credit cards.

shanghai-benz.taxi-on.road.jpg

Benz taxi on the road.

Cross Bank Money Transfer Now Possible

Believe it or not, it was impossible to transfer money from one bank to the other easily before. No matter how huge the amount it is, you have to withdraw cash in one bank counter, bring it to the other bank counter (with high risk) and deposit the money in the destination bank – all are manual operations and used cash. I am almost driven mad to be forced get the money from ATM machine and wait in the long line to pay my mortgage for my apartment. As a habit of an IT industry professional, I kept asking: Why not a service to enable transfer of money electronically? The cash transactions are just stupid.

Run told me the availability of the service. The China Pay (run by the China Union Pay Co. Ltd.) started the cross-bank money transfer business from end of March, 2003. Now, it supports money transfer of 11 banks. According to their website, you need to go to the out-bound bank (the money you transfer your money out) counter to apply for the service and you can conduct online transfer with China Pay.

The application for Bank of China is only processed in three branches in Shanghai downtown. I remember one is at 1221, Nanjing West Road (map).

ICBC – A Customer’s Experience

Update: Fraud Alert! October 06, 2006

Warning: If you happen to be ready to contact a person named Wang Yang Lee or other persons in ICBC that you have won a lottery, please STOP now! It seems to be a serious fraud. Check here for more information.

Disclaimer: What I wrote here only represents my personal opinion based on my limited experiences with the bank mentioned. It should not be regarded as a real reflection of the overall service level of the bank.

Let me tell you my story of ICBC. By the way, you may know the theory that an unsatisfied customer will tell at least 20 of his friends about the bad experience? I am the unsatisfied customer and I believe at least 50 persons will read this article – I am the powerful dissatisfied customer, aren’t I?

Counter Service. I often use the most crowded ICBC Tian Yao Qiao Rd. Branch. The good thing is, they have a Q-matic queue management system at the door. You can press a button to get a small piece ticket telling you how many people are waiting in line before you. The average number was around 50. Once I got a ticket with 120 people waiting before me while there were only two windows open! It often costs my whole noon break to wait there. Maybe this is a good sign of the heavy business volume of the bank from another point of view. Anway, it is one of the largest bank in China. Also, long line not only happens in ICBC. I also see long lines in my favorite China Merchant Bank.

My friend Willie told me that this never happens in U.S. since people will just go online to transfer money and to pay their bills. This is not the case in Shanghai yet. ICBC has its self-service facilities, telephone bank system and web bank system in place. They must have thrown millions of dollars into the systems. However, poor usability of the web bank are barriers preventing more people to try the service. I think I am among the most skillful web users. Even I gave it after attempting to use their online service since I don’t know how to continue. I doubt whether normal user like my mom would possibility utilize the system well. By the way, did the web developers know that if I didn’t configure my browser to send ZH-CN language code to the server, all the characters it returned are all question marks which are not readable at all?

I need to point out again here, that this is my personal experience. My experience didn’t prevent ICBC winning the World Best Online Bank award by The Banker. Why? I didn’t find a reason so far.

ICBC was the pioneer to try out non-password protected credit card. Its international credit card follows the international tradition, that only signature is needed and customers don’t need to input a PIN. Almost all credit cards from other banks in China require customer to key in a PIN to pay. Unexpectedly, this innovation brought trouble to ICBC and to card holders like me. Tellers at supermarkets are not trained to use this “new?card so they insisted me to enter a pin before I use my card. It is wired situation that I don’t have a pin. I don’t know the pin myself. It took quite some time to explain that this is an international credit card and it does not require a pin to use. Later, we found out the trick that keying any random 6-digit number on the keyboard will do the work. So less argument for me and time was saved. Recently, ICBC have to step one step back and added pin protection to all its credit card again. It proved again that customers in China have so different customer behaviors and something works internationally will not always work in China.

I also encountered several time the teller told me I cannot withdraw the money because the computer system is down. That was annoying. They have pre-printed, well decorated notice boards saying “Computer is down. Service paused” at every counter. It seems the computer-down is their daily routine and the utilization of the notice boards is high. I argued with them that why the computer system goes down so frequently. The young man at the right-most counter of the Tian Yao Qiao branch simply gave me an are-you-stupid look and said: “It is the computer that is down. Why yelling at ME?”

I cancelled my International Credit Card last October. Surprisingly, they returned the money on the card was as late as mid Jan, 2004. They used the 3 month to go through lengthy process to refund the 200 RMB annual fee (which they charged by mistake) to my bank account before they can refund me the large amount of deposit I made. I anxiously checked with them every week to get my money back.

Well. There is still something I like for ICBC. The number of outlets is the highest among all banks and I can always find a ICBC bank. Their Q-matic system is cool. Their telephone service hotline 95588 is good. Also, it is the issuer of my first international credit card.

OK. That is my personal experience that explains why I will give a 5 out of 1-9 rating system for ICBC. To be fair to ICBC, I want anyone read the report to know to the banks I use most are Bank of China, China Merchant Bank and ICBC. ICBC are still a good bank, but it happened I was shown its worse side to me.

Thanks for WilliamW to give me suggestions regarding this article

Service Quality of Banks in China (Shanghai)

I told a short story of the service level of banks in China yesterday. In the story, a foreigner argued with the teller that the teller should help to fill in the form for him. Many people commented on the story. They shared their diversified view from Japan and U.S.

WilliamW believes it is the service mentality instead of language barrier that caused the problem. WilliamW also asked about the situation of smaller banks like China Merchant Banks.

JH argued “Unless there are some major holes in the current system of that bank, filling in an application form should have nothing to do with the customer’s authorization of accessing the money in the account.”

Billy was so nice to bring out the idea to take pictures of all the application form and help to translate English into Chinese annotations and post it to the web to help foreigners to survive.

Micah talked about his experience of working “under rules that seem to run against common sense” in a large chain book store. Micah suggested that “When a customer runs up against a rule like that, the best the she/he can do is ask to talk to the person who makes the rules and can override them: the manager. There’s no shame in asking to speak to a manager.”

Xu praised the extended service hours of banks in China. “Each bank here Japan is to be closed in exact 3 PM, and of course no Saturday and Sunday service.” He wondered “how a full-time job employee can catch time to visit a bank? or leave it all to his full-time housekeeper wife ? Sigh …”

Brad was lucky since the teller Brad met helped him to fill in the form. I wonder whether the “against-common-sense” policy is branch specific policy or the teller Brad met did the right thing by breaking the rule. Who knows?

Tane had different point of view and asked “why the foreginers kept arguing with the bank clerks while people waited in a long line. If it’s the way to do in there, let’s do it in that way.”

Well. It is a great discussion thread. Inspired by your comments, I want to share more about my personal experience with the major banks in China. Let’s start with ICBC.

ICBC Card

I have a very interesting card – the ICBC credit card. It can only withdraw cash from ATM machine outside P.R.China but not within the country. It is a card issued by Industry and Commercial bank of China! How strange it is.

It is also the first card I don’t need password in China to purchase or to withdraw money. I don’t need a citizen ID card either.

315.51 + 425.17 RMB/USD