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Report on attempting to open bank account at Shinsei bank

HanSolo

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I've been meaning to write this since they frantically closed my account after I opened it, and then stonewalled me away like a criminal, but I wanted to make sure other banks didn't engage in the same treatment of foreigners. Since they haven't, here is the report.

I attempted to open an account at a branch of Shinsei bank several weeks ago. I was motivated to go to Shinsei first, since everywhere on the internet was recommending it as being 'the easiest for foreigners'.

I went there, no one spoke English but I managed to open an account smoothly enough, and left with my ATM card. "Job done" so I thought...

I then arrived at the guesthouse I was staying at, and was told they had both called (I used their number to open the account since I had no Japanese phone number, which they accepted due to the logical dilemma of a mobile phone plan usually needing a bank account), and that a bank manager had then come in person to find me. The landlord said they would ring again later.

When they did, they frantically explained to me that they were closing the account immediately, and asked when they could come to my place to collect the ATM card. By 'frantically', I mean with the same tone and sense of urgency one might say "this building is about to collapse, evacuate immediately". I responded that I can come and drop it off (obviously so I could argue with them about it in person), and she made me commit to a specific time I would do so.

I then called the Shinsei bank English-speaking hotline. To my disbelief, this hotline specifically prevents IP phone calls (skype etc), by requiring you to press and hold the * button on a landline phone to confirm you are using a landline or standard mobile phone. Well most foreigners do not have such a phone. SIM cards are denied to non residents (and the easy-going "prepaid SIM at the airport" taken for granted in pretty much every other country doesn't exist), and setting up a plan for residents generally requires you to already have a bank account. I had to borrow a local's mobile to do this. No other place I have called has had this 'tone confirmation' on its line. Why would they do this? I'm just going to assume they are anti-foreigner.

I finally got an English speaking operator on the phone after waiting about 25 minutes (had to convince the guy who lent me the mobile phone that it was a free-call, but I'm not sure if it was or not for a mobile). I then asked what the problem was, and they said "we do not issue accounts to residents with a 6 month or shorter visa period". When I explained that the working holiday visa system for Australians uses a 6 month, twice extendible system (maximum of 1.5 years), she simply responded with a curt "Because your resident card shows a 6-month expiry, you will not be given an account". End of story. "Why is that the case" was never mentioned by anyone, just that "that is what's happening" like robots. Apparently the MOJ can issue me a resident card, I can be enrolled in the National Health Insurance, and have a permit to work, but low-and-behold I try and do something as outrageous as "open a bank account".

It should be noted that for other countries, the working holiday visa is issued as a single 1-year visa. Thus this constitutes a deliberate policy of discrimination against, for example, Australians over Brits. I tried to explain this to their bank manager after he took the card, and all I got was head shaking.

I would strongly and specifically recommend against foreigners trying to use Shinsei bank. They are the least foreigner friendly bank I have been to. I'd recommend pretty much anywhere else, such as the major Japanese banks like Mizuho.
 

Mike Cash

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They were remiss in not carefully enough checking your stuff to notice up front that you didn't fit their guidelines, but that's about all.

That your visa is extendable is irrelevant. That most foreigners don't have either a mobile or a landline isn't true. And the very existence of an English helpline refutes the idea they're averse to having foreign customers.
 

HanSolo

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That implies "their guidelines" are passed down from God or something. They make their guidelines, they have come up with reasons they made 6-month their guidelines, instead of simply having a resident card (i.e. deferring to MOJ's judgement) which is enough for the other banks I visited (that and having an inkan). They were remiss in having a stupid rule, not just in that they forgot to enforce it for a few hours. There seems to be a prevalent attitude in Japan that if a 'rule has been written down', that's the end of the story, as though it was bestowed by a devine power. The fact that "reasons for the rule" don't exist or are irrelevant, is hilarious. The only rule a corporation should be following is "what makes the most money over the long run and doesn't break the law". If for some reason, opening an account for a shorter minimum term resident costs more money for them, just charge a fee. Don't robotically respond "DOES NOT COMPUTE, CANNOT COMPLY".

That their system ejected a working holiday maker, but other banks didn't, is sufficient to disprove that they are the most foreigner-friendly bank, as every result in a google search for "best bank for foreigners in Japan" seems to suggest. Hopefully this report hits that search list too, to provide a more balanced opinion. I doubt very much that Japanese working holiday makers in Australia are treated the same way.

Is "that most foreigners with no bank account have a landline or mobile" true?
 

Mike Cash

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You can gripe until the cows come home about how you think they ought to run their bank if it makes you feel better. It won't change anything.

How many other banks have you already opened accounts with and why do you need accounts at multiple banks?
 

johnnyG

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As a shinsei customer, in the last few years they've been a little slow (time on hold, and I've sometimes reverted to Japanese to avoid waiting), but everything has worked right after that. I love that funds to the US cost "zero", and there are also no other nicks along the way between here and there.

I think you're being a little harsh--so as suggested, try some other banks and see how they compare.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I've found Bank of Yokohama to be quite responsive. Only pet peeve was that, after we concluded some business over the phone in Japanese, they insisted on having an English speaker call me back. Though to be perfectly fair handling that issue in Japanese was at the very bleeding edge of my ability and it was probably prudent of them to make sure it was all completely understood.

Very nice people, though, and easy to deal with. They also directed me on how best to use their services to minimize the fees. I'd recommend them.
 

Glenski

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Don't even think of using the old line, "it's not that way in other countries". This is not other countries, and choosing to not open an account for a 6-month transient is quite reasonable. They have no way to confirm you will stay longer, and you can't prove it, either. Live with it.

Out of curiosity, are we comparing apples and apples here, with your visa status and that of others who have had success with Shinsei?
 

HanSolo

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Lol, yes Glen you've accustomed yourself to the (modern) Japanese concept of " システムは正しいだから, システムは正しいだ ". However, no, things are not right because "that's how it's done here", things are right or wrong objectively, and in comparison to the alternatives. I will have to respectfully disagree with your comment as usual.
 

Glenski

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I never said the system was right, just accepted by Japan's culture. Don't put words in my mouth. Don't like the system? Vote for its change (or work for its change), or do your best to adapt to it. (Some would add another alternative of leaving, but I won't.)

How about answering my question?
 

ckng2000

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Hi. I read about your post regarding opening of bank account. I wanna ask in the end did you managed to open bank account for non residence? I dont live in japan but i recently purhase a property in japan and i need bank account for rental collection, water bill, maintenance etc etc. It will be great if i can have some info from you. Currently my visa status is 90days.
I've been meaning to write this since they frantically closed my account after I opened it, and then stonewalled me away like a criminal, but I wanted to make sure other banks didn't engage in the same treatment of foreigners. Since they haven't, here is the report.

I attempted to open an account at a branch of Shinsei bank several weeks ago. I was motivated to go to Shinsei first, since everywhere on the internet was recommending it as being 'the easiest for foreigners'.

I went there, no one spoke English but I managed to open an account smoothly enough, and left with my ATM card. "Job done" so I thought...

I then arrived at the guesthouse I was staying at, and was told they had both called (I used their number to open the account since I had no Japanese phone number, which they accepted due to the logical dilemma of a mobile phone plan usually needing a bank account), and that a bank manager had then come in person to find me. The landlord said they would ring again later.

When they did, they frantically explained to me that they were closing the account immediately, and asked when they could come to my place to collect the ATM card. By 'frantically', I mean with the same tone and sense of urgency one might say "this building is about to collapse, evacuate immediately". I responded that I can come and drop it off (obviously so I could argue with them about it in person), and she made me commit to a specific time I would do so.

I then called the Shinsei bank English-speaking hotline. To my disbelief, this hotline specifically prevents IP phone calls (skype etc), by requiring you to press and hold the * button on a landline phone to confirm you are using a landline or standard mobile phone. Well most foreigners do not have such a phone. SIM cards are denied to non residents (and the easy-going "prepaid SIM at the airport" taken for granted in pretty much every other country doesn't exist), and setting up a plan for residents generally requires you to already have a bank account. I had to borrow a local's mobile to do this. No other place I have called has had this 'tone confirmation' on its line. Why would they do this? I'm just going to assume they are anti-foreigner.

I finally got an English speaking operator on the phone after waiting about 25 minutes (had to convince the guy who lent me the mobile phone that it was a free-call, but I'm not sure if it was or not for a mobile). I then asked what the problem was, and they said "we do not issue accounts to residents with a 6 month or shorter visa period". When I explained that the working holiday visa system for Australians uses a 6 month, twice extendible system (maximum of 1.5 years), she simply responded with a curt "Because your resident card shows a 6-month expiry, you will not be given an account". End of story. "Why is that the case" was never mentioned by anyone, just that "that is what's happening" like robots. Apparently the MOJ can issue me a resident card, I can be enrolled in the National Health Insurance, and have a permit to work, but low-and-behold I try and do something as outrageous as "open a bank account".

It should be noted that for other countries, the working holiday visa is issued as a single 1-year visa. Thus this constitutes a deliberate policy of discrimination against, for example, Australians over Brits. I tried to explain this to their bank manager after he took the card, and all I got was head shaking.

I would strongly and specifically recommend against foreigners trying to use Shinsei bank. They are the least foreigner friendly bank I have been to. I'd recommend pretty much anywhere else, such as the major Japanese banks like Mizuho.
.
 

thomas

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Opening an Account | Shinseibank.com

Individual customers living in Japan are eligible to open PowerFlex accounts.

A customer can open 1 account only under his / her name.
Corporate customers will not be able to open this type of account.
* Please note that foreign citizens who will leave Japan (nonresidents of Japan) are required to close their account.
 

cocoichi

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It is quite an old thread, but the easiest place to open a bank account as an exchange student or similar is JP Bank (Japan Post Bank). I remember we went in groups of 10 with a local Japanese student, and everything was easily arranged. This was Kyoto, but I think it is national policy.

I think you get a bank account with some limits though. No online or digital transfer etc, but it is good enough to store money on, and avoid the international transfer fees when taking out 20/50/100 dollar/euro equivalents at a time.

Hope this helps others!
 

HanSolo

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Hi. I read about your post regarding opening of bank account. I wanna ask in the end did you managed to open bank account for non residence? I dont live in japan but i recently purhase a property in japan and i need bank account for rental collection, water bill, maintenance etc etc. It will be great if i can have some info from you. Currently my visa status is 90days.

.
Hi, basically every other bank I talked to didn't seem to have a problem. The only factors they cared about was (a) do you have a resident card? (b) do you have an inkan?
So just apply at banks other than shinsei, and the first bank will likely give you an account without much hassle. Some bank will give you an account.
 
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