Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Internet banking in Cyprus

After only 18 month or so of Cypriot [or maybe EU] bureaucracy we have our office bank accounts open... We are a UK registered organization wanting accounts in Cyprus. It is the EU after all. All we now needed was internet banking. Of course, that would mean more forms, I was expecting that. They haven't heard about the decimation of the rain forests for wood pulp from trees here, it's more like if you can create a form with one side as important, we'll make it 5 sides, and print it on 5 separate sheets of paper.

OK, so I fill in the form, which has to be co-signed by my co-director in the UK. I take the form away, send it to my co-director, he signs and sends it back. The form is a template company resolutions saying 'We'd like to use Internet banking'. Simple.

I take the form back, and was told, 'Where's the company stamp?' Next followed a 15 minute discussion where I explained that we didn't use company stamps in the UK. I remember using a company seal approximately 25 years ago, but not seen one since. [long phone call to aged mother in Athens, stockbroker or baby-minder... I suppose it could have even been her supervisor...] Eventually they decide that they will accept the form without a rubber stamp that I could have forged for one pound down town.

'OK, now we'll add this to your Internet bank login'. I don't have an Internet bank, my wife does, but I don't. 'Ahhh, because your wife applied we automatically added you'. But, I don't want it added, I want it separate and I don't want to have internet banking for my personal accounts, my wife deals with that and... phone call to her supervisor [well, someone else anyhow, since I don't speak Greek, it could have been her son, a priest or the prime minister for all I knew]. 'Yes, we can accept the form without the rubber stamp and I will create a new account/login for your business internet banking'. Guess what? More trees die, another 5 pages of forms to sign. 'The new login will be here in 2 or 3 days'.

A week or so later I collect the account details and my secret pin/password [and a cheque book for a bank account that I had already closed... another tree dies...] I am told 'Before you can use it you have to phone this number and they will activate it'

Back to the office [too easy to phone from the bank] and I phone the number written on a scrap of paper. 'I just want to ask you a few personal questions as a security procedure... what is your passport number?' Nothing as simple as your mother's maiden name... we all remember our passport numbers don't we... having found my passport I recite the number 'Sorry sir, that is not your passport number' It is... I have it right in front of me. 'Do you have your old passport, maybe it is that one...' Great idea using a passport number that changes every few years as an identifier...

'OK, let's try this as alternative, please tell me the bank account number attached to this login...' I tell her. 'No, sir, that is not the number...' Am I me? Have I transmogrified into someone else? I am failing the security questions badly... 'What is your date of birth?' I pass that one. I then find that in fact they have attached my personal accounts to this login not [as specifically requested] only the business ones. I politely ask them to connect the correct accounts. 'I cannot do that sir, you have to go to the bank to do that'. Bank to the bank.

Firmly [and frustrated] I say: Please can you connect the correct accounts to this login? 'Ah... I was going to contact you...' [she fumbles though a 10 cm pile of papers and finds a complement slip clipped to the form I had brought in 10 days earlier] '... there was a problem with your application' Apparently, since they had provided us with a draft resolution and they had printed in the names and we had decided to add an extra name in handwriting [it is after all our company resolution] this was causing a problem. We would have to start all over again.

Just a minute... I have my login, all I want it the accounts attached to it changed to the ones I specifically requested. [Another phone call with her cousin, primary school teacher or landlady's daughter.] 'This login is for your personal accounts' No, I never requested that, or filled in any forms for that, and specifically requested not to have that facility. So it must be for the one that I filled in the forms for, which is for my business accounts...

'Sorry, you'll have to start again... I will print the forms and you can fill them in again for this additional login...' Another tree dies. Just a minute, these forms are totally different from the forms you gave me last week. 'Yes, those must have been for your personal accounts...' But I didn't want, I specifically didn't want internet banking for my personal accounts... we spent time with you phoning [your aunt in Australia, your garage mechanic or whoever] to clarify this and that is why you gave me those forms.

I complete the new forms. I need this quickly, can I have this sent down today so that I can use it today... my book-keeper is in today and I need to use it. 'If we FAX it to Nicosia, you can have it tomorrow...' Just one problem... where we had written in the directors handwriting on the resolution we had passed as a company...

[another phone call with brother-in-law, hairdresser or local coffee shop owner... no... another bank employer comes over summoned, it was a phone call 5 metres across the office]

'Ah, Mr Richard, so nice to see you... how are you?' Discussion in Greek. Further discussion in Greek. Elongated discussion in Greek. They take out the 'white out' and paint out one place on their form that we had injudiciously written on... oops sorry, I mean our company resolution that we as directors had written on. Now they can FAX it to Nicosia and Nicosia will never know...

OK, now just one thing, it all has to be done on the computer. I peer over watching to check they do it correctly. Well... maybe. Excuse me why have you left unchecked the box for doing transfers to third parties. 'Oh... do you want this?' Yes, of course.

'You will have to buy a Digipass if you want to do that...' What is a Digipass? They explained. Its what I know as a SecureID from RSA Security, and I probably know more about them than they do as we are thinking of implementing this at the office ourselves and have spent time talking to the technical people about the implications of this system. Yes please, I'll have one of those for each director. 'Please can you fill in these two forms...' Two more trees die.

'The new login and Digipass will be here tomorrow...'

We'll see.

1 comment:

Rajaram S said...

i applied for a cheque book from the BOC branch down the road 6 monhs ago and i am still get it!
The surprising part is that they manage to give very convincing reasons for the delay every single time!