ICBC - the anti-FinTech?

(Allie) #1

Does anyone have an account with ICBC London? I’m looking at opening one for the UnionPay card, and from what I can tell, they’re the anti-FinTech:

  • Paper-based forms for everything.
  • Extremely limited branch hours.
  • Online banking requires Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 (or lower) to run their ActiveX control.
  • There is an Android app, but they say you need to use the online banking (Windows 7/IE8/ActiveX) to use it.

Does anyone have one of these very anti-FinTech accounts on here? Is it worth it? Am I being unfair to call them the anti-FinTech?

(Valeri) #2

My impression it is they only operate by appointment which I find somewhere between the lines of too much hassle. :tired_face:

However I’ll be interested to hear if people’s experience with them. I am also pondering whether to go with them or open an account in China. :cn:

p.s.: To use their mobile apps I’ve heard that when you open your account, you have to tick the box to use online banking e.g. they don’t differentiate between the two. The screenshots on the App Store don’t look too bad. Sadly the Chinese app looks million years ahead of the international one…


  • International one
  • Chinese one

(Allie) #3

I didn’t see that, but I’m definitely thinking too much hassle as well… I really wanted to add some more travel payment network diversity. Currently, I only have FTF-free Mastercard and American Express cards issued in the UK (I have US-issued Visa and Discover with no FTF, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep a banking presence in the US, if I renounce my US citizenship it’ll get a lot trickier I’m sure).

(Allie) #5

Increase the network diversity of the no-FTF cards I have issued in the UK in GBP. Currently I have (UK-issued):

  • Monzo (Mastercard)
  • Halifax Clarity (Mastercard)
  • Aqua Reward (Mastercard)
  • MBNA Everyday Plus (American Express)

Already bad enough having only two networks for travel, and I suspect the MBNA Everyday Plus may end up converted to a different card, like all other MBNA Amex-network cards have been. It’s long-since discontinued and the last remaining MBNA Amex even for existing customers.

I really don’t want to get to a point where the only network I can use to spend my GBP abroad without absurd fees is Mastercard! Despite their wide acceptance and great exchange rates, all eggs in one basket…

Which only works on IE8 or older… and depends on ActiveX (something even Microsoft acknowledges shouldn’t be used). ‘Secure’, that’s what they call it these days? LOL

(Allie) #7

Yes, but not in Microsoft Edge

Good point on the old logon page. Would the mainland site work for logging into a London account?

(Valeri) #9

That is a big no-no for me especially for software coming from that area. If I am to open an account I’m pretty sure I’ll limit myself only to the mobile app if it is powerful enough, for that reason.

And yes the login page seems to have not been updated in a while, however I am not convinced the newer software for the mainland (or in-fact their login page) will work for login to the London account…

@GalaxyMergirl - If it is purely for diversification I’d recommend you get a Visa card, I think they have the best acceptance in the world. If it is for travel to China (also good for diversification in HK, Singapore or Thailand though they tend to accept all cards or none) then yes, it is a treasure that is worth investing your time in. Hopefully ICBC will eventually update their systems and ways of opening accounts. Their form for opening account looks almost the same as the form I had to fill in for travel visa to China… :smile:

(Allie) #11

Mastercard has the best acceptance, I believe :slight_smile: But there are some notable exceptions for Visa (Costco USA and the Olympics are the two Visa-only merchants I can think of off the top of my head).

The MBNA American Express was great in Japan, as it’s the most widely accepted network there. I’ll be sad if MBNA kills it off, but it seems likely. My actual Amex, unfortunately, has an FTF.

UnionPay is something more like American Express, more different than Visa/Mastercard where acceptance has a tendancy to go together like Nutella and banana. And I would like to visit China again sometime!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a computer at home running either Windows or macOS, tho I suppose I could run Windows in VirtualBox, and that offsets the security concerns too.

However, maybe I’ll wait until I actually get a chance to go to China. The thing is, if I move out of London, opening the ICBC account would become even harder…

(Allie) #13

No, I just mean as a tourist. I might open an account closer to getting to go to China (currently planning for 2019) in hopes things have improved a bit :slight_smile:

(Allie) #15

Yes, just for holiday - visit friends from uni. Hoping to go to both Shanghai and Beijing, though most are in Shanghai.

P.S. Also, Taiwan - I have more friends there than in PRC, but I imagine card acceptance for Mastercard/Amex is much better in Taiwan?

(Allie) #17

Thus why I see the ICBC card as the best no-account fee no-FTF network diversification option for general travel when I already have fee-free Mastercard/Amex.

I mean, frankly, I’d rather have a Maestro card for the Netherlands, Germany, etc. But as far as I can tell, these just aren’t issued by any UK bank. Also, the acceptance problems seem to be improving a lot.


You could get a Maestro card from the UK (not in the UK) by opening an online account with Bunq

(Allie) #20

I think they used to but I think most issuers went to Visa or sometimes Mastercard. Most of those weren’t real Maestro cards, anyway. They were rebranded Switch network cards.

Fair, but they have an account fee. I tend to be allergic to paying people to let them borrow my money :stuck_out_tongue:

(Allie) #22

They’re very expensive, tho. 9 EUR per month is the cheapest someone signing up today can have a card for…

(Valeri) #24

Hmmm In South Africa :south_africa: and neighbouring countries I am pretty sure Visa is dominating the market, with any other cards acceptance being dwarfed behind.

I’m surprised to hear that about Japan. I thought they are very JCB oriented… Also you have Amex that doesn’t charge you loading for FX? :open_mouth: Is the settling rate any good compared to MasterCard/Visa?

About Germany, when I last went in Heidelberg in 2014, I had massive pain with card acceptance but that was because they were looking for some local scheme logo similar to Link, at least in supermarkets - so they were accepting only cards that are locally issued, however restaurants in tourist areas were happily accepting all kinds of cards. Hope that is no longer the case.

Taiwan wise - yes they accept Visa and MasterCard everywhere, there is no need to worry about that. It is a wonderful place with loads of nature which I always recommend people to go and visit. Also plenty of tasty food.

(Valeri) #25

Amazing, that sounds great. (Well better than installing the software anyway :slight_smile: )

Thanks for the info, Tom!

(Allie) #26

It’s similar to or a bit better than Visa. Worse than Mastercard. It’s also not available anymore. It’s issued by MBNA (formerly Bank of America and now owned by Lloyds tho the online systems are still Bank of America). All other MBNA Amex cards have been discontinued completely and cardholders switched to Visas… Tho Lloyds still issues Amex so we will see.

Amex and JCB have a mutual acceptance agreement.

Thanks! Might be awhile before I’m down there but good to know! Do you know about Israel, Spain, Brazil and Cuba? They’re also on my next 12 months list - at least Israel and Spain!

(Valeri) #27

I can ask about Israel as my brother is an exchange student there at the moment.

From my personal travels to Spain - Visa & Mastercard are universally accepted everywhere, Amex not so much.

Haven’t been to Brazil nor Cuba yet, but I’d love to one day.


Posts indicate cards often swiped without pin or signature! and ATMs run out of cash on public and religious holidays

(Allie) #29

I definitely should have looked there! I was just thinking out loud about other countries. Thanks for linking. It sounds pretty much the same as the US. I believe they had the same liability shift date, too, so chip should be getting introduced now.

Remember signature is pretty useless as a CVM so not much point in actually collecting it. Merchants are now liable for magstripe fraud worldwide, I think.

(Valeri) #30

So, my bro said that:

  • Most banks over there issue Visa card (including the one he opened an account with)
  • He has not had issues with acceptance of his EU-issued Maestro and MasterCards
  • There are loads of Americans paying with their cards (I’m assuming he means AmEx?)
  • If you are visiting the Old City in Jerusalem and spend wise you’d need around 1000 shekels cash but apart from there everywhere else seems to be accepting cards