Culture, Tech, Travel Tips

Japanese Banks – Stuck in the 80s

We got a blast from the past when we came into a major Japanese bank in Kyoto.

After searching for a currency exchange place for 2 hours the day before, in Namba, we were quite excited to easily find a bank in Kyoto. Little did we know the bank was run like we were back in the 80s. Employees were dressed in regular business attire, but they welcomed us both. A man and a woman clerk sat down together and started to help us. While the exchange rate was 102 yen per dollar they were only able to offer us 97 yen per dollar. We were a bit disappointed at losing nearly 5% in the currency exchange, but we dealt with it.

It was interesting as they had rejected exchanging $550 because it was was not a even $100 number. They explained they only exchange in denominations of $100, so we went with $500. As they calculated how much money to bring us, which took a number of minutes, Danielle and I noted how antiquated their systems and computers were (literally box size monitors, noisy printers, hard copy exchange rate print outs – no screens, manually updated). They looked like they were running on machines that were pre excel, pre internet; they housed small green and black screens. Printers were using the old perforated edges. We were quite shocked.

Eventually we got our Yen at the crap exchange rate they offered us and moved on. It’s time for banks in Japan to get some new technology – and in general for them to catch up with neighboring cities like Seoul and Shanghai.  Don’t expect anything too advanced when visiting 🙂

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