Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - Page 8

Dealing with medieval banks

I own a small to medium-sized manufacturing business. I make products under my own brand and even in these times of economic crisis am doubling my turnover every year.

I am a foreigner, but am the sole owner and manager of my factory in Taiwan, where I live. I have residency as a foreign national and pay taxes.

My business is mainly international exports, although recently I sold my products to a large manufacturer in Dadu and another manufacturer in Fengyuan has expressed interest.

Because I am an exporter, I have a foreign currency account and a New Taiwan dollar account.

On Friday, I will go to the US to exhibit my products — all made in Taiwan — at the Fabtech event in Las Vegas.

I go there on my own account, with no help from the government because I am a foreigner.

In addition, local banks do not want to give me a credit card so I have to take US dollars in cash with me.

However, when I went to the bank yesterday to withdraw US$2,000 from my account, I was told I had to pay a fee.

When I asked why it cost me money to make a withdrawal, they said — and it is true — that every Taiwanese bank does this.

In essence, this is “forming a cartel” and deemed illegal in most advanced countries.

Taiwanese are extremely nice, so they do not want to make problems and seemingly never complain about this banking policy.

However, I will complain because the global financial crisis is purely a problem of the banks as they are the ones who caused it.

One bank immediately canceled the charges when I mentioned this and gave me my money without any extra charge, just to get me out of the branch.

Another bank did not, but of course I know that the staff working in the bank are not responsible and cannot do anything to change this policy.

It is the banks chief executives that make these rules. It is these executives who every month during a game of golf discuss how they can best rip people off.

Why does the government not do anything about this?

There will never be a financial crisis in the country, because Taiwanese banks are the richest in the world.

Meanwhile, there are the Taiwanese mothers and fathers working hard to save money for their children and never spend anything.

The banks do not give them a high interest rate, maybe as low as 1 percent a year, yet they make a fortune with hardworking people’s money.

What do the banks do for them in return?

Absolutely nothing, and these hardworking parents never complain.

The banks are playing with millions of NT dollars through my accounts, but they do nothing for me in return.

The whole banking system in Taiwan is from before World War I — everything is done through paper, paper and more paper.

Internet banking? Forget it.

With the threat of hackers this is unreliable, as had been proven in so many countries.

In this respect, the government is living in the Middle Ages.

Gerry Floor

Greater Taichung