How 37 Banks Became 4 In Just 2 Decades

bank chart

How 37 Banks Became 4 In Just 2 Decades“:

If you were wondering how banks got “too big to fail,” here’s a good place to start. This chart shows us how, over the last couple of decades, 37 banks have became just 4 mega-banks. These same 4 mega-banks have, thus far, been immune to the consequences of any and all of their terrible decisions that places the entire world economy in jeopardy.


Gittip – inspiring generosity

Gittip – inspiring generosity


Gittip is a way to give small weekly cash gifts to people you love and are inspired by.

Gifts are weekly. The intention is for people to depend on money received through Gittip in order to pay their bills, and bills are recurring.

Gifts come with no strings attached. You don’t know exactly where your gifts come from, and the maximum gift from one person to another is $24.

Gifts are public. The total amount you give and the total amount you receive is public. Participants on both sides of the equation are rewarded publicly for their participation. (You can opt out of publicly displaying your total giving.)

But the procedure, Sir …

I just had the most retarded conversation with Hellenic Bank, which usually is quite understanding and cool, but in the last couple of month freaked me out a couple of times.  The situation is simple and complex at the same time.  I had a prepaid card (P-Card) on my name, connected to my account.  I gave it to my father so he could withdraw some money from the ATM in Russia.  This worked nicely quite a few times, until today there was a situation with a wrong PIN.  The bank in Russia was willing to sort it out, if only they could speak in Russian with some sort of bank representative.  So, I called the bank support line, and here is what transpired.

Support: Hello, sir, how can I help you?
Me: Hello.  I have a rather tricky situation and I need your help with it.  I have a prepaid card on my name, which I gave to my father to withdraw money.  He is in Russia currently, and he all of a sudden got an “invalid pin” error, even though it’s the same PIN that worked several times before.
Support: OK, can I have the card number please.
Me: Yes, sure, it’s 4173*********.
Support: Can I have your name please.
Me: Yes, sure, Leonid Mamchenkov.
Support: It was an incorrect PIN, sir.
Me: Yes, I know, the system said so.  But first of all, it wasn’t, and secondly, what can we do about it?
Support: Is your friend still holding a card?
Me: First of all, it’s not a friend. It’s my father. Secondly, no, it was taken by the ATM.  However the bank in Russia is willing to return the card if they can verify the identity of the holder and such.  Do you have any Russian-speaking support or branch or something?
Support: The policy is that the other bank does not have to return the card.  They will send it back to Hellenic Bank to get destroyed.
Me: I understand, however that would mean quite a huge delay in time for the transaction, not to mention an inconvenience.  Is there something we can do here?
Support: No, the policy says …
Me: Yes, I understand what the policy says.  But the situation seems solvable.  All you need to do is verify my identity and speak with the Russian bank, who will call some number of yours.  This way we can avoid a lot of …
Support: We cannot verify your identity, Sir.
Me: What do you mean?
Support: We cannot verify your identity, Sir.
Me: Listen, the prepaid card is connected to my account. It’s in my name. I’ve been a client of the bank for years now.  You can ask me any question in regards to that account, I will be able to answer – current balance, address, date of birth, the ID card number, anything.
Support: We cannot verify your identity, Sir.
Me: Can you please connect me to your supervisor then.
Support: I am the supervisor, Sir.
Me: And you cannot verify my identity?  You don’t have the procedure for that?
Support: No, Sir.  The procedure for this case is that the card is being destroyed.
Me: OK. Can I have the money from that prepaid card then?
Support: Sure. You can go to your branch and ask for the money.
Me: OK, thanks. Then I’ll do that tomorrow and will use Western Union or some other money transfer service.  And you can follow your procedure further on.  Well done. Good bye.
Support: Good bye, Sir.

Yeah, well.  And then we wonder what happened to the economy.  How freaking difficult is it to verify my identity and then speak to a bank in Russia.  And that’s when Russian IS one of the three language choices on the same support number that I just called, and not only – Hellenic Bank does have representation in Russia too.  I guess it’s just much simpler to say that we have a procedure that allows us not to give a crap about your problem.


Hellenic Bank updates interface, adds mobile banking

A couple of weeks ago Hellenic Bank clients received a notification through their bank mail that the web interface is about to be updated.  The update was schedule for September 3rd, but I guess it didn’t go as smooth as expected.  For the last two weeks the web banking was slow, unstable, and unavailable at times.  Today I finally managed to login and experience the new interface.  Here are the before and after screenshots for you to compare.

The new interface is far from perfect, but it is a vast improvement over the old one.   I’ve also noticed a banner advertising the mobile banking.  That sounded totally like a dream.  It’s hard to believe that Hellenic Bank even knows what a mobile banking is, let alone is capable of implementing one. I immediately decided to check it out – after all it was as simple as navigating to a mobile version of the website.  I tried to log into it, but was constantly thrown into a blank white page.  Not very surprising, but I am willing to give them time.  Given that there web site is still shaky, I doubt they have time to look at the mobile version of it as well.

Banking paradox

Yesterday I discovered one of those banking paradoxes.  If you have a check and you want to get the money the same day, but I don’t want to turn the whole amount into cash, then you still shouldn’t go for “deposit check” operation.  The thing is that depositing the check to an account takes two to three days, because check needs to be cleared.  However, you can cash the check and then deposit cash to the account.  Both of these operations are imeediate.


He hates me, but it’s OK

Today I was at my bank. I had to cash a check, as well as do a couple of other small things. While at that, I decided to open a credit card. I have some cards already, but not one in Euro. So, they send me upstairs to see this guy there. He is responsible for credit cards, overdrafts, loans, and things like that. I’ve seen him before a few times.

This guy hates me. It’s OK though, because I think he hates everybody. Probably, he is very good at his job, since he is paid to hate everyone. People who will max out their overdrafts, overdue payments, etc – he is the one who filters them out. And it surely helps to hate them all.

Every time I enter his office he looks at me like he is trying to decide who is more worthless a Cypriot woman or a foreign man. He tries to remember anything good about Cypriot women. His wife and mother-in-law come to mind. That disgusts the heck out of him. Then he looks at me, measures me from top to bottom and back to top, makes a face like he just ate a huge cockroach, and decides that his mother-in-law is a little bit better than I am. Then he says: “Good morning”. These two words express more than some people will manage to express in their whole life. These two words have the whole world inside them, the world where I am at the bottom of the food chain, and this guy is floating above the top… or something like that.

Usually, the visit to his office kind of offsets my day. He doesn’t freak me out or depress me or anything. But there is this sour feeling for the rest of the day, after I see him. But not today. Today he had no way of saying “no” to me. As much as he wanted to decline my request, send me as far as possible, and forget about me as fast as possible, he couldn’t do anything. He had to say “yes”.

That “yes” was as expressive as the “Good morning”. It made my day. Maybe even a week. Maybe even more. Any time that I will ever feel down and depressed, I will be coming back to read this post. It’s a booster.

P.S.: obviously, I am not going to mention the bank, the branch, or the guy’s name, but some of you can guess it as easily anyway.

Make your kids rich. Just a thought.

I had to visit the bank today.  Since I was on my way to the park (with Maxim), I decided to take him in.  While we were standing in the queue, one of the clerks stopped by to say hi.  She played a bit with Maxim and suggested that we open an account for him.  I thought she was kidding, so I replied in a Fargo-ish way “Oh, yeah.  Right”. Surprisingly, she looked at me very seriously and said that she wasn’t joking one bit.

Needless to say I got interested.  She said that all I had to do was to bring Maxim’s birth certificate, and based on this document she can open a bank account on his name.  Maxim will only be able to use this account when he is 18.  But until than, both I and Olga can transfer small amounts of money to that account – 10 or 20 pounds a month.

As a result, if we’d do that, Maxim will have a good sum of money to start the adult life.  (Calculations for the lazy ones: 10 pounds per month x 12 month per year = 120 pounds per year.  Maxim is now 1 year old.  That means that he has another 17 years to go before he can use the account.  120 pounds per year x 17 years = 2040 pounds + bank percentage.  4080 + percentage you’re willing to make it 20 pounds per month).

I understand that for many parents saying this outloud is like repeating that the planet Earth is round, but for me it was a completely new unconsidered idea.  I’ll be rushing back to the bank with Maxim’s birth certificates one of these days.

Hellenic Bank – they did it!

Hellenic Bank has been one of the best banks on the island for some time now. The difference between all of them is very small, but in this case, that’s what makes it more noticable.

One of the reasons that I switched to Hellenic Bank was that their Internet Banking website was working in Mozilla Firefox. And not only it was working, it was almost perfect – all operations were available and there was no need for a Java plugin or anything like that.

A minor annoyence existed though. Main menu was a little bit screwed up and didn’t show completely. It was possible to see it by clicking the little menu frame and either selecting text in there, or using the scoll mouse. Not very comfortable, but at least it worked.

Last week Hellenic Bank finally fixed the issue. Now everything looks and works perfect. More reasons, therefor, to stay with them in the coming year.

If I was to pick a feature that I miss the most, it would be the SMS notification for the change of account balance. Currently I can only setup alerts which will notify me if account balance goes above or beyond a certain amount. But what I want to have is an SMS when something changes at all. Other banks have it and I don’t see any reasons why Hellenic Bank can’t have too.

Anyway, I am still pretty pleased with their service.

P-card from Hellenic bank and Flickr Pro

Vladimir told me about this new cool offering from Hellenic BankP-card, so I went to the bank today to see if I can get it.

Basically, P-card is a regular debit card. It is not connected to any of your accounts though, which is a nice thing if you want to use it on the web. The amount debited can be anywhere from 15 CYP and 500 CYP. If you run out of money, you can debit more. The P-card is for electronic use only, which is good enough if you ask me – web, ATMs both local and abroad, and shopping point of sale systems – are all good.

Applying for the card is extremely easy. Any clerk of any branch can issue the card in about 10 minutes. All you have to do is present and ID card or passport and debit either cash or from your account. The good thing is that you can even use P-card to give someone else money, like a gift for example.

I decided to start with a 50 CYP card, debitted from my account. I have received a package that contained the card itself, PIN, the copy of terms and conditions, and a bonus CYTA So-Easy 5 CYP card. Not bad.

I have also tried if the card worked on the web and didn’t have any problems. I have purchased myself a two year Flickr Pro account. By the way, I have a couple of ideas on how I am going to use it extensively in a very near future.

Resume: if you need a quick, simple, and secure way to buy stuff on the web or via other electronic means, get yourself a P-card from Hellenic bank. That’s a really good option.