Friday, March 30, 2012

Haiku for the week

Wallet in trousers,
Trousers in washing machine:
Money laundering!

Jeez, it's been years since I made that mistake! I'm not sure I've ever done it in China before. Chinese money is very absorbent. And it picks up colour - and, er, loses some of its own - rather easily. I don't know if I'm going to be able to use some of these notes now: a moment's inattention may have cost me some hundreds of renminbi.


John said...

More money mistakes my man? Merde!
Over here banks are very keen for you to use cash as little as possible. We all know how little we're close to this eventuality (doesn't stop it being a focus of their advertising) but from what I've read here we're a lot closer than China is. What is the flexible friend situation like down your part of the Far East? Is there chip & pin yet? Also, I read recently about people in struggling parts of the country being given new financial freedoms (e.g. being able to make foreign investments) but what about the "old foreigners"? Are you restricted by the same laws as the locals?

Froog said...

I have a whole series brewing in me about how crap Chinese banks are. (Still! They've got a lot better over the last 5 years, but they're still unbelievably CRAP.)

I've read that China is doing more overseas investment at an institutional level in the last few years, but I hadn't heard of any relaxation on the rules about taking money overseas for private citizens.

I suspect that in practice people just do it covertly. That's how it works with most of the foreigners I know too. However much the government might relax the rules on on how much money you can expatriate and how often and by what procedure and so on, basically the rules remain just too bloody complicated and too obscure (and banks such a pain in the arse to use) that most people can't be bothered, unless they need to shift really large amounts (which probably won't be possible). If you need a few thou for your next holiday or business trip, it's much easier and pleasanter to go and visit your friendly neighbourhood black market money-changer. These guys are much thinner on the ground than they used to be, but there are still a few around; and I think there will be for some years to come yet.

Debit card swipe facilities are becoming quite common at supermarkets and larger restaurants and department stores (at least in the 'upper tier' cities; I doubt if it's spread countrywide yet); credit cards, not so much.

When I first came here, there was a nice Catch-22 going on that many outlets advertised that they would accept Chinese credit cards (which scarcely existed at that time!) but not international ones: screw you, laowai!