How has China survived with an economy growing as fast as it has been with such a pathetic, incompetent and moronic banking system?
Chinese banks have some of the nicest branches of any banks I have ever seen. Leather seats, large screens with constant useful information such as exchange rates and interest rates, a very organised ticketing and `turn taking' system. I guess this is all to show how big and important they are and probably more likely how trustworthy they are. In my opinion its simply to try and placate you while they tell you `no' to every single simple request you have.
Today for example, we had a simple task to do; go to 3 banks (Bank of China, Bank of Communication and Construction Bank of China) and deposit money into the accounts of 3 companies. This was to pay for some sample products we had ordered for some customers as part of our China product sourcing business. Yes we do have a Chinese bank account, yes we do have Internet banking, no you cannot do a simple thing like transfer money from your own account to another persons account using Internet banking.
The first branch we got to was the Construction Bank of China at about 3.30pm and we took our ticket and sat down in big comfy chairs to wait (and watched the angry Chinese people yelling at the tellers). We waited about half an hour and couldn't even fill in a deposit slip to speed up the process when we got there - valuable things like deposit and withdrawal slips are kept safe and sound behind the thick bullet (and angry Chinese man) proof glass for safe keeping.
We got to the window and told the guy what we wanted to do. It seemed to be no problem and Sabrina filled in the deposit slip, signed and gave it back to him. He asked for her passport! WHAT? He said he couldn't process a payment without id. It was for an amount of about A$80. SO I had to walk back to the apartment to pick up Sabrina's passport. 10 mins later I was back in the bank, and Sabrina was sitting in the same chair in front of the teller, the teller was sitting there looking at all the people in the queue (hows that for productivity). Anyway, about 4.20pm we had successfully completed our deposit and were off to the next branch.
We got to the Bank of China at about 4.30pm (armed with 2 passports) and took our ticket and sat in the comfy chairs in the marble waiting room. At about 5.20 our number was up (I think a few people in front of us had to run home to get things). We told the teller what we wanted to do, and the answer was no, sorry you can't do deposits after 4.30pm. WHAT? He tried to explain that after 4.30pm they closed the accounts for deposits so they could do a reconciliation. Sorry, but what a crock! There were people transferring money, exchanging money, withdrawing money and using ATMs. Money was flowing in and out of accounts left right and centre. But, no, he was adamant - no deposits after 4.30pm. The bank was open to 6pm - he didn't seem to think that was a bit strange.
To make up for the fact that we had waited all that time, he allowed us the privilege of going to see the armed security protector of deposit slips, and we were granted permission to take 2 deposit slips home so they could be prefilled for easy lodgement in the morning. Oh joy!
All we were trying to do is buy things from Chinese companies, with Chinese money and have them sent to a Chinese address. But, it seems that even this simple transactional process must be delayed and riddled with bureaucracy, incomprehensible logic and outdated thinking and processes. Its wonder that the economy has done as well as it has and is testament to the patience and tenacity of the ordinary Chinese person.
Just imagine for a moment how fast the economy would be growing if it didn't take 2 days and 3 banks to make a payment for an order! Staggering.