• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 10:08pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 10:17am

HSBC finally gives customers new ATM card after UnionPay debacle


Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.

The wait is over for HSBC's long-suffering customers who have been unable to withdraw cash in many countries, particularly outside Asia. We understand the bank will today announce that customers can apply for a new ATM card which uses the Plus payment network, which can be used in addition to the bank's current ATM cards, which use the China UnionPay payment system. The arrival of the new card, will, hopefully, bring to an end what has been a hugely embarrassing saga for HSBC.

Lai See received numerous complaints from HSBC customers who, on arriving in foreign lands, found they were unable to use their ATM cards to withdraw funds from their accounts. Although the China UnionPay card works in China and in most other parts of Asia, it is virtually useless outside the region. Readers reported that in Europe even ATMs displaying the China UnionPay logo did not work.

Previously, HSBC's ATM cards used metallic strips that enabled customers to withdraw cash overseas at machines that accessed either the China UnionPay or Plus payment networks. But last year, in what was said to be an effort to boost security, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority ordered banks issuing ATM cards in Hong Kong to adopt chip-based cards. These cards use only one global payment network, and HSBC chose to adopt China UnionPay. It is expected to take at least six working days for customers to receive their new card. They will be able to access their current and savings accounts when using it in Hong Kong and at HSBC's ATMs overseas. But the ATMs of other banks will not necessarily give customers access to both of their accounts. So, where an ATM only allows the customer access to one account, funds will be withdrawn from the current account.


Global warming and open minds

In recent weeks we have discussed some aspects of the global warming debate in an effort to draw attention to some of the more alarmist claims of the United Nation's intergovernmental panel on climate change. For our pains, we have been rewarded with unkind comments in a letter in today's Letters to the Editor section. It criticises us for "ill-informed scepticism about climate science … that recycled a mix of cherry-picked, decontextualised science, misinterpretation and contrarian error, much from other journalists who believe they alone have identified fatal flaws in this complex area somehow overlooked by 95 per cent of climate scientists worldwide". The correspondent, Richard Fielding, adds: "Do people honestly believe that all these thousands of scientists worldwide are so utterly, completely wrong, and are making this stuff up for publicity or just to scare politicians in to spending money? Really? If this reflects how our opinion leaders evaluate the world then serious questions must be raised both about their espoused acumen and their mental health." Harsh words presented with the usual breezy condescension that is directed to anyone who deviates from the cause.

The author of the letter, who is not a climate scientist, says we should accept the IPCC findings because thousands of scientists say it is true. Yet there are many distinguished scientists who disagree. Mr Fielding even questions our mental health. Perhaps he has forgotten that, until challenged, the IPCC's 2007 report would have had us believe that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 and that global temperatures would rise 0.2 degrees Celsius per year for the next 20 years even when it has not changed for the last 17 years. We're accused of cherry picking. The IPCC says "warming of the climate system is unequivocal. And since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia".

But there is literature that shows not only that the warming in the 20th century is not only not unusual, but that there have been more intense warming periods in previous millennia, long before the industrial revolution and the burning of fossil fuels. The climate has been heating and cooling for thousands of years. It is not unreasonable to say that the science on this is not decided. It is important that people question this so-called consensus and remain open-minded. People also need to be sceptical about the colossal amounts of money being spent by governments on mitigating this perceived problem.


Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com


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This article is now closed to comments

OldPeak Toad
How come, a small columnist gets to know what is in the daily paper, and has the possibility to reply to it in the same issue?
Who else gets to know the content of the paper before it is published - AND EARLY ENOUGH TO REACT TO IT?
Thanks Howard for standing up to thought fascists who have apparently learned nothing from Galileo.
"many distinguished scientists who disagree", "there is literature" - nothing but hot air from you, Mr Winn. And what are your qualifications to speak on climate science? Nil?


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