15 October 2019

Beside sharing my story of opening a bank account here, I’m going to compare and contrast the process with the banks in my country.
McEwan Hall, University of Edinburgh

How could I not talk about this being a fintech student, right? So let’s begin!

Not being able to make an appointment in advance means a long queue in the morning.

I was warned that it could take me weeks, or even months, to open a bank account here. However, before I came I spoke to some university alumni and they recommended the Bank of Scotland as the easiest bank to open an account with. They told me that it does not require booking an appointment, and the debit card would come within a week. Once I arrive in Edinburgh, without hesitation, I looked for the closest Bank of Scotland branch and went straight there.

When I arrived, with a huge disappointment, they told me to come (to queue) the next day at 9.30 am, which upset me so much because the bank wasn't due to close until 4.30pm and it was only noon! The next day I arrived at 9am to queue, and the line was already very long. Once the bank opened, I waited in line for around 30 minutes before they told me to come again at 1 pm, but it was really almost 2 pm before I was seen.

Basically, I can guarantee that you’ll be able to get your account by the end of the day as long as you come before the bank opens, but it took me the whole day, so be prepared for that!

The debit card is free of charge!

This fact surprises me so much, but in a good way. In Thailand, you have to pay about 7-8 pounds just to get a bank card!

They don't give you a physical bank book.

In Thailand, whenever you open a bank account, you will automatically be given a physical bank book that will be used to update your transactions. Here, you can only update your transactions via mobile application, which, I suppose, helps to save paper.

In the digital economy that Scotland is becoming, bank books are not as important as debit cards, since most people here know how to check their transactions in real-time in the application. The contactless cards are used in every shop, and many checkout machines do not accept cash any more.

I have also heard that the reason we queue so long is because some bank branches have closed down, creating a bottleneck in the remaining branches when students want to open an account during Welcome Week.

Nevertheless, this reflects the efficient and advanced cashless society of Scotland, and ensures me that I have made the right decision to come to study my MSc Fintech here.

Immy Asavabhokhin, MSc Finance, Technology and Policy