This web site may be near its end. My US bank was recently bought out by ING Direct, they closed the accounts of all their customers living abroad. That leaves me without a debit card. Unfortunately, even after living in Taiwan for five years, I still haven’t found a local bank willing to give me one. I made a very exhaustive search in 2003, and then again in 2005 and came up with no success. Automatic refusal of all foreigners, including long term residents seems to be the norm.

I asked my current banks again. Taishin and Huanan refused me outright, while Fubon gave me a card specially crippled for foreigners, to prevent us from buying things online. I don’t really have the energy to check with a dozen banks again, especially since all evidence points to them being just as discriminatory as they were two years ago. Maybe I’ll look for a US bank that will serve international customers, but it will take a while.

For now, no debit card means no way to buy books online, no way to buy Skype credit, no way to order stuff, and most significantly, no way to pay for my web hosting. I’m not quite sure when Dreamhost will try to charge me for this month, but when they do, the site will go down. The same goes for everyone else I’ve been sharing hosting with. Such is life.

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First Full Day in Shanghai

Update: If you’re a foreigner and want to be able to get a debit card, try calling the government help number at 0800-024-111 and telling them so. They were the ones who ended up helping me find a way for a couple of my friends here to get phone lines (without a local to sign for them), but when I asked about debit cards, they said that it wasn’t an issue for many foreigners.