Shenzhen banking can be broken up into two categories:
1) Domestic Banks:
- ICBC (Industrial Commercial Bank of China)
- Bank Of China
- Development Bank of China
- China Merchant Bank
- China Agricultural Bank
2) Foreign or International Banks
- HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation)
- Standard Chartered
- BEA (Bank of East Asia)
- Hang Seng
When first arriving in Shenzhen, whether from Hong Kong or abroad, you will notice your standard home banking ATM card won’t work in any of the domestic banks. This is due to the fact that the Chinese banking system runs on its own “System” and not the international standard of Visa, Maestro, Cirrus, or PLUS. The China system is the Chinese version of “Union Pay” (This is also different to the Hong Kong “Union Pay” System).
To over come this sudden lack of access to cash from your home bank, you will need to find one of the above listed Foreign or International Banks. Mostly, these banks are branches of Hong Kong banks but luckily, Hong Kong uses the International Standard Systems that our home countries also use. Be warned, however, for these banks are not as common as the domestic ones and are usually found in the big shopping malls like MixC and King Glory Plaza.
If you have moved here for work or an extended holiday, I suggest you open an account at a domestic bank. This is a very easy process and just requires a copy of your passport, an entry visa and a small fee, usually around 10RMB, to open your account. You will be given a card immediately and have access to the funds you nominated to put into the account.
Once you have this local account, you can withdraw from your foreign account at the foreign or international banks in large sums and place it into your domestic account so that you will not be stuck running around looking for a foreign or international bank.