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  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 9:26pm

HSBC

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. 

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FINANCE

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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This article is now closed to comments

Greenwash
I have complained to HSBC about this. China UnionPay is really only in Greater China. Having a 'few' ATMS you can use in the rest of Asia is not at all workable; HSBC branches are few and far between in most countries. UnionPay is basically non-existent in the rest of the World.
I have now linked up my HSBC Visa Card, which has the Plus network on it, to my HSBC bank accounts. But I am going to set up a bank account with another bank just to be safe. Also, UnionPay is owned by China's commercial banks, i.e. the government. Not good in terms of privacy and confidentiality. A very foolish move by HSBC.
marriotthk
I am properly outraged by this. I couldn't get money from ATMs in Greece a few weeks ago and I was travelling on my own - that's just not safe! Luckily I had a UK ATM card with me but I have had a Hong Kong HSBC account for 18 years and I shouldn't have to use a UK ATM card that I only keep for emergencies. I am going to Colombia in the summer - that should be fun. I am seriously considering changing banks.
normandym
It's pretty clear that's the goal: HSBC WANTS you to switch banks so that they can move away from retail banking. Their contempt for retail banking customers is on display.
ABCDEFG
@drakokc: just to clarify, the overseas limit is a separate issue which confuses the matter further. If you do not reset this you cannot use the ATM machines abroad at all. The change of network means that even if you have reset this limit you can still not use ATMs which you used to. I have been to two airports in different countries which have neither unionpay or hsbc atms, where I previously had no problems at all getting money.
drakokc
"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."
LOVELY EXPLANATION!
But :"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."
is true, and we need to finish this procedure before trip.
So, commercial society -- commercial decision... nth to blame, it will happen in every bank, and it's happening... we can just follow the instructions... (rules of game)
impala
So my bank throws my ATM card off the only ATM network worth being on, and to add insult to injury, I have to read about it in the newspaper. Does HSBC have any communication strategy at all? Instead of sending me all the junk letters with loan offers and credit card deals, could they not have sent me one email to inform me of this potentially very inconvenient change? A new low.
blue
HSBC really is complete garbage.
ABCDEFG
I also got caught in a country without Unionpay or HSBC presence.
Fair enough that HSBC makes changes to their services, just very disappointing that HSBC does not clearly and transparently inform clients of these changes which are material if you travel regularly.
Their card change announcement even starts off by reassuringly stating that clients will enjoy the same ATM services as before. This hardly encourages a dig into the rest of the announcement to find out what the changes to the global ATM network are.
olliereid
"HSBC did not reply when asked whether changing from Plus and Link would mean customers would have access to fewer banks worldwide."
...why not? Did they not hear? We're they too busy on candy crush? Are they angry with you? What is the answer?
olliereid
"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." ...that is both beside the point and misleading. Overseas withdrawals always had a limit. They just reset everyone's limit. This article is about HSBC switching to a single network, to the massive detriment of customers overseas. In Laos, union pay machines were about one in ten I would say.
But come on, lets have more juice to this story. The last line is like a tantalizing teaser to a sequel... Did the MA encourage banks to go to one provider? Are they partly to blame? Are HSBC really restricted to using one provider for security reasons as per their spokespersons comment?
Please I know it's a Sunday but please finish the story

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