I’ve been running around with Dirty Shoes to help her get her bank account set up before she reports to work, but I shall leave the details to the adventure to her to share with you and focus on Prestia instead.
Prestia used to be Citibank until the latter decided to sell their retail banking business to SMBC (Mitsui-Sumitomo Banking Corporation)—no idea why it’s not MSBC ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. But the bank was run under SMBC Trust Bank, separate from the main banking business by SMBC. That was why you couldn’t deposit or withdraw money using the numerous SMBC ATMs nation-wide. And also why you could still transfer money with global multi-money Citibank accounts overseas without incurring handling fees as promised by the bank during the transfer.
Further, since it used to be Citibank, it was a breeze opening new accounts with them. The bank has, however, recently completed merging with SMBC. This means, all the perks you used to get under Citibank no longer exist. The worse thing is, since they have converted to the exact same system under traditional Japanese banks, in order to open an account with them, a foreigner would have to either:
- have been in Japan for at least 6 months or
- have a proof-of-employment letter
That doesn’t sound like a big problem, except when your company requires you to open a bank account prior to starting with them, which was the case for Dirty Shoes. Her company was very helpful in providing the contract details and their intention to contract with her. Unfortunately, to the bank, the “intention to contract” is equivalent to an offer letter and not a proof-of-employment. So, her application was rejected. The only positive news regarding this merger is that you can now use all SMBC ATMs across the country.
Anyhow, Dirty Shoes eventually got her account opened with another bank after running up and down 3 of them. No prize for guessing where she had her account opened but I’ll leave that for her to write about.
I have had the experience of being denied an account at mizuho because I was not in japan for more than 6 months though I had a proof of employment. But when I asked the floor staff for an official letter stating I cannot open an account with them ‘BECAUSE THEY DENIED ME’, the floor staff just went ahead with the account opening.