O-Bank! Originally established as Industrial Bank of Taiwan in 1999, the bank was restructured into O-Bank at the beginning of 2017 to enter the retail banking market. Instead of copying the old fashioned model where tons of paperwork is required to open an account and for many operations, O-Bank decided to provide completely digital services.
So its no surprise that the location of the bank is inside the Neihu Technology Park and is also pushing for reforms to digitize Taiwan’s banking sector.
Other branches have been established in the downtown “East District” of Taipei on Zhongxiao East Road as well as in Xinyi next to Vieshow Cinemas.
We went there to open an account. For foreign residents (those without a Taiwan ID) its currently necessary to visit their office to open an account. Those with Taiwanese ID can do the same completely online! When you arrive there, you will already notice that there is no place to pick a number and you don’t hear the sound of needle printers of someone updating their bank’s “passbook”, nobody is at the counter filling out paper forms.
A staff member will guide you to a computer with a large screen.
They will then proceed to scan your ID and passport using a tablet computer. That’s right, there isn’t even a photocopier there.
You can pick your VISA or Master Card debit card on the screen. You can choose from many designs including babies, animals, nature scenes and even some comic drawings. Once your account setup is complete (your signature is done on the tablet using a Digitizer Pen) the card will be sent to you by mail.
It took us less than 15 minutes to do the complete setup (including making the decision for the right looking card).
We received an email that the account was opened and were able to deposit money to it right away. The app (available in the Google Play store for Android and Apple’s Appstore for iPhone’s is currently only in Chinese though).
We look forward to see how O-Bank makes Taiwan’s banking more convenient in the future. What they’ve accomplished so far is already astonishing if you are familiar with Taiwan’s “old school” banking and the paperwork that is needed for far too many things.
O-Bank’s retail portal (Chinese): https://www.o-bank.com/retail