The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

America Is Modern History …

So I’ve already written how much I’m enjoying LA.

That doesn’t mean it’s better than China, just different.

I say that because there’s a huge amount of things about China I miss.

People. [Or at least some of them]
Clients. [Or at least some of them]
Culture. [Nearly all of it]

But there’s one thing I miss in its entirety and that’s how China deals with money.

More specifically, how China has embraced technology to enable people to transact their cash.

Of course, part of this is because China LOVES getting people to spend money and so the easier they make it, the easier it will be to get people to do it but then America – a land the Middle Kingdom copied in terms of capitalistic tendencies – is supposed to be a ‘spend society’ so I’m absolutely shocked how backwards they are in terms of embracing technology for finance.

Everywhere I go … everything I buy … can only be obtained with a credit card or a cheque.

A fucking cheque.


Oh yes, there’s the odd ‘Apple Pay’ option, but as we all know, that’s a piece of crap – especially compared to WeChat – so basically I’m in a situation where for the first time in literally 20 years, I am using cheque books.

At first, I thought they were joking, then I opened my bank account and they sent me 6 cheque books “to get me started”.

Six!!! Hahahahaha.

Thank God I was a pre-existing AMEX customer so I could get a local card otherwise – given the way America only offers you credit if you’re wildly in debt – I’d have to buy a bloody newspaper with a cheque.

The World may laugh at QR codes, but China has shown how they can be used to change the way people behave and transact with money forever. If America wants to be great again, modernizing their approach to money might be a good first step.

26 Comments so far
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You’re right Roberr, it’s terrible. But it is much better than it was.

Comment by George

Roberr. Nice. But Robargh would be better.

Comment by DH

i prefer the name fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by George

And getting approved for any credit card is a gift. I wasn’t allowed one for the first 2 years here because my credit score was none existent. With a house, cars and a credit card, you’re already ahead of most.

Comment by George

I’ve never owned a new car or an apartment (forget a house).

I think America’s financial system is treating you fine.

Comment by DH

yeah, hes fucking having it hard.

Comment by andy@cynic

The boys do have a point Robert.

Comment by George

when florence fucking nightingale says were right you know campbell is a whining prick crying into his gold plated pillow.

Comment by andy@cynic

This post has sod-all to do with my bank balance and all to do with the mad financial infrastructure of the US, both in terms of how it evaluates your value and how it gets you to spend/buy stuff.

Given I’ve been in the situation I am currently facing in the US, I can say it’s far worse and far more narrow-minded than any other place I’ve lived – and that includes China.

Comment by Rob

If that doesn’t show we hit a raw nerve, nothing does.

Comment by DH

Blame the Wall Street Crash.

Comment by John

they keep checks so the bank fuckers can suck the fees out of everyone. wankers.

Comment by andy@cynic

Less than 2 months in America and already calling it out. (You’re right though.)

Comment by Pete

To be fair, that’s quite a long time. For me.

Comment by Rob

Yeah it must have been really hard to wait that long.

Comment by Shann Biglione (@LeShann)

I assume the “newspaper “you wanted to buy was The National Enquirer.

Comment by John

You know me so well.

Comment by Rob

They only sent 6 cheque books because they’re aware of the levels of discretionary spending on gadgets, grasping at youth t-shirts and German sandals

Comment by northern

Are you suggesting the banks are trying to ween me off my choices for discretionary spending? If you are, then you may have identified the first good thing a bank has done.

Comment by Rob

And yet …

To transfer my salary to Australia each month, I needed to go into my bank in China and provide them with:
1. Passport
2. Work Permit.
3. Contract of Employment
4. Salary notification
5. Tax receipt certificate
6. International funds transfer form
7. Local bank internal transfer form

All documents had to be the originals, each and every month (the bank wasn’t allowed to keep a copy). It used to take about an hour, and that’s when the teller knew what they were doing. If you got one that didn’t, it could take two. And that’s after queuing in the branch for up to an hour.

Chinese banks are probably why the Chinese invented paper.

Comment by Ian Gee

When was that Ian?

Comment by Rob


Comment by Ian Gee

But it was an international transaction, and they hated those. I grant you that the domestic payment systems are pretty smart. Even down to little touches like getting an SMS whenever you used the ATM.

Comment by Ian Gee

Rob… just catching up on your blog (yes i have gone deep!) and want to warn you that when you need a new cheque book (unless you have a fancy bank account… which you might as I imagine you’re filthy rich(!!!)so have a premium account type thing) – the banks will charge you for a cheque book!!! When i moved to NY i was gobsmacked by the cheque situation – not as gobsmacked as when they wanted to charge me $26 for a new chequebook!

Comment by Nicola Daniel

campbell owns banks.

Comment by andy@cynic

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