My foreign name is too long for ICBC

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Chinese supermarket experience and I would say that going to a Chinese bank is an interesting event too. I have an account in ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), but had some problems with it. When someone tried to transfer money to my account the bank said my name was written wrong. How could I not know my own name?

I went to the bank yesterday to solve the problem. Luckily there was a bank clerk whose English was quite good and I didn’t have to rely on my weak “banking Chinese”. The answer to my problem was obvious. Chinese name usually consists of three characters, on some rare cases it can be four. But I happen to have not only one first name, but two. In total my name is 21 letters.

That is just way too long for their system and so my name was written all together with no spaces and they also dropped the last A from my second first name. Wouldn’t have figured that out on my own.

The fun part about going to a bank is to see how many staff members are needed and how many different kind of stamps are used. I wanted to register for the online bank so I would have less visits to the actual office in the future. In total three bank clerks and three stamps were needed.

One clerk translated and two handled the registration. There was one big stamp on the table that is used by the clerk who is working behind the table at the time. Then all the bank clerks also have a small individual stamp so it’s clear who have handled which client and signed which papers. My online bank registration papers needed to be verified by two persons so in total I got one big stamp and two smaller ones.

While I was waiting for all the paper work to be done, a young man came to the counter next to me. He had a big black bag with him and he started pulling out hundreds of thousands of RMB. I had never seen that much money in my life! Was he a business man and came to deposit his profits? What kind of business could that be?

In general you can trust banks in China. I have lost my bank card once and when I went to the bank to collect it they were really careful about checking my identity and that I truly was the owner of the card.

Or does some of you have opposite experiences about the reliability of Chinese banks?