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  • Aug 27, 2014
  • Updated: 11:28pm


The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was founded in Hong Kong on March 3, 1865, and in Shanghai one month later. In 1980, HSBC acquired 51 per cent of Marine Midland Bank, buying the rest in 1987. HSBC Holdings was established in Britain in 1991 as the parent of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation ahead of its purchase of the UK-based Midland Bank and the impending 1997 transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China. 


HSBC cards no longer work in many overseas ATMs

Customers going abroad complain of trouble getting hold of their money and blame bank's decision to link up to a single global network

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 6:28am

HSBC customers have complained the bank has made it more difficult to draw out money abroad.

Many on business trips or holidays have said they were unable to get their hands on their cash from ATM machines.

That's because the bank has switched to chip-embedded cards that connect to a single global payment network.

Previously, access was provided to the Link or Plus networks. Plus is owned by Visa and claims to have access to 1 million ATMs in 170 countries. But HSBC has chosen China's UnionPay as its network provider for the new chip cards.

One Hong Kong resident told the Sunday Morning Post: "Since the issuing of new cards, I have been in London, Istanbul, Tokyo, Morocco, Vancouver, Vienna and Paris.

"I had no joy getting cash in any of them. It always said card error, card invalid, or simply spit the card back out with no explanation."

HSBC did not reply when asked whether changing from Plus and Link would mean customers would have access to fewer banks worldwide.

The Monetary Authority has instructed all banks in Hong Kong to adopt the chip-based technology for ATM cards.

The new cards have an embedded microchip on the face, but retain the magnetic stripe on the back. The new technology is designed to make it harder for criminals to use stolen data to manufacture fake cards.

But in adopting the technology, several major banks forced customers onto the UnionPay network this year, instead of the Plus system.

The UnionPay network was launched on the mainland in 2002 and is operated under the supervision of the People's Bank of China. UnionPay cards are accepted at merchants and ATMs in 141 countries.

But Hongkongers say UnionPay is a poor substitute for Plus and Link, as it is not recognised by as many banks worldwide.

UnionPay-friendly terminals outside Asia can be difficult to find. Even if you do locate one, it may not have been updated to handle the new cards.

HSBC said customers would encounter problems if they had not yet activated their ATM overseas cash withdrawal limit - a new procedure put in place by the bank to improve security.

But customers said it was the change from using the Plus and Link networks to UnionPay that was causing the problems. An Australian resident in Hong Kong said only National Bank, Citibank and HSBC would accept the card in his home country.

An industry source said HSBC put the networks out to tender and decided which one to use based on the best deal.

An HSBC spokesman said: "For security reasons, we are allowed to link to only one pay system - we use UnionPay."

He added that ATM card customers can withdraw cash from all HSBC ATMs in the world - except in Argentina, Brazil, France, Greece, Malta, New Zealand, Panama and Turkey - as well as from ATMs covered by the UnionPay network.

The bank aims to complete the card replacement process by the end of March next year.

A Monetary Authority spokesman said it was a purely commercial decision for a bank to choose which network they used.


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HSBC- The letters stand for "Having Simple Become Complicated" - This is a case of an allegedly international bank dictating to its customers what they can and cant do. It is absolute rubbish that new chip cards do not work overseas as one would and should expect, and woeful that HSBC right royally stuff up such a simple expectation from and for its customers. Note this only seems to be an issue in HK, so that alone speaks volumes for the lack and senior management skill and direction. I am glad the SCMP ran the story they did, hope they keep up, perhaps some public pressure will make the powers that be at HSBC realise want a bunch of wally's they really are!
Months ago I asked HSBC in HK where - other than at HSBC branches - I could withdraw cash in London, Basically, where are the UnionPay ATMs as the UK is not listed on it's website 'ATM search'. They wouldn't listen to the question properly and told me to 'call the UK'. Eventually they patched me through to some poor guy at HSBC London who apologetically admitted he'd never heard of UnionPay. Guess it's switch banks or back to the days of traveler's cheques....
December 6, 2012 · by badcanto · in Politics
In 2011, Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced that all ATM magnetic strip cards are going to be replaced by chip cards to increase security. As new ATM chip cards are being rolled out, netizens have noticed that the symbol of Visa Plus/Mastercard’s Cirrus is gone and only that of China UnionPay remains. Besides worrying about privacy and security problems of China UnionPay, netizens also see this as a sign that Beijing has absolute control over their bank accounts.
Visa Plus is gone in new Hong Kong ATM chip cards (Upper). Source
Visa Plus and Mastercard’s Cirrus are ditched in Hong Kong ATM chip cards. Source: HSBC
Netizens’ Comments
1. Smart identity card is to monitor what you have done, what you have applied, what you have signed up, your ISP and telephone accounts etc.
2. Octopus card is to monitor to where you have been and what you have bought.
3. ATM chip card is to monitor your account activity.
I don’t discuss with conspiracy theory. Think for yourself.
膠人: I am from Macao (and a bank staff). Macao ATM cards are also going to be changed to China UnionPay chip cards. It is really fantastic. If the Communist Party is in trouble, everyone will be forced to be “patriotic”.
俠: Point 1, that is to prevent Mainlanders from transferring money to overseas
A Hong Konger
I faced major problems with using the Union Pay system in various countries after HSBC made Union Pay it's exclusive method of cash withdrawal after ETC. The decision was an extremely short sighted and stupid one by HSBC to opt only for Union Pay, I find it highly irresponsible of HSBC to puts it's customers at risk by leaving them unable to access their funds in many locations around the world, to say nothing of forcing it's customers to use a BoC supervised porthole, something many in HK might find objectionable.
See the following website to locate Union Pay cash withdrawal machines: ****cn.unionpay.com/AtmEnglishFront_Search.html, you can for example withdraw your money in Afghanistan, Congo, Djibouti and 34 similar holiday destinations. Regretfully, United Kingdom, Germany or the USA did not make it to their list of importance countries to service.
Interesting to note is that my HSBC Visa still uses the PLUS network. But drawing cash with a VISA will incur higher bank fees!
HSBC = fees and charges, fees and charges, fees and charges, fees and charges, fees and charges, fees and charges, fees and charges, fees and charges, fees and charges, ...............
HSBC is making it harder to want to keep banking with them. I wonder what would possess them to make such a foolish decision to change to Union Pay at this stage in time. I could see it if Union Pay was established and the customers could access their accounts in other countries.
Why stick with HSBC?
"Your Citibank ATM card allows you access and withdraw cash free of charge at over 1,000,000 Citibank, PLUS, STAR and NYCE network ATMs in more than 160 countries worldwide."
Re mschmidthk, yes, I encountered that problem too (of the credit card defaulting to do a cash advance. I finally went to an HSBC staff member in Hong Kong at a 'Premier' banking location and he showed me, using their ATM, how to set up your HSBC Visa Card so that you can withdraw cash from your current or savings account (it isn't that obvious).
Thanks Greenwash, I'll try that when I'm back in HK :-)




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