Into the loop


I have given up after three unsuccesfull attempts ot open a bank account at a NatWest branch down the road from the office of ODI where I work here in London. On Wednesday I give it a try with HSBC near the Parliament and Westminster. HSBC is called ‘ global bank’, meaning they have subsidiaries all over the world, they deal with customers from many countries, and I had heard that they provide the possibility to open a passport account. So I went, quite optimistic.

I met a nice lady who explained me everything. In order to open a bank account I need an address and a proof of address. The proof of address comes only from a BT bill, council tax, gas bill, electricity bill. I said that in order to get these bills, I need to fill a form which in all cases asks a bank account. The HSBC lady, answered: ‘yes, I know.’

So tried a different approach: what about a passport account? Can I open one? She answered, ’you need a passport and a proof of address?’ I said, ‘how?’ She answered. in passport or for example driving licence. I took them and showed that these documents do not show addresses: the passport is issues by the German Embassy in Phnom Penh (kind of suspicious), and the driving licence only mention the municipality where it was issued: Jyväskylä – Finland (difficult to pronounce, even more suspicious). She looked at them and said they would not do and said: ‘You cannot open a passport account’. She also started to smile. Me too, I must admit.

I tried a third approach. ‘Isn’t this the’ global bank’?’. ‘Yes’, she said. ‘ So what f I open an account to your HSBC branch in Ha Noi where I will be next week and then come back to you to transfer the account here?’ ‘That’s not possible, you would still need a proof of address here in London. You could only withdraw money from the wall.’ You seem to be in a loop’, she finally said with a smile, capturing in 7 nice words how I felt in that moment.