Today I opened my very first bank account in China. I had no idea it would be such an ordeal. Luckily my coworker, who is very fluent in Mandarin, took me to the bank and did all the talking. I definitely could not have accomplished opening an account on my own.
No one working at this particular bank spoke English, and the application form was all in Chinese. They took my passport to make a copy, to have on file I suppose, and three of the bank employees stood holding my passport, scrutinizing it for a good 15 minutes. It was bizarre. From what I could tell, and I could be completely wrong, it seemed as if they were trying to figure out how to translate the English characters into Chinese so they could enter my information into their computer system, which maybe only takes Chinese characters? Who knows.
For some reason they made me complete the application form three times. I couldn't understand why at first, but turns out I kept writing in English and they needed the form completed in Chinese. My coworker doesn't write in Chinese, so on the final attempt to complete the application, we settled on me writing my name and passport number and having the bank employee complete the rest of the form in Chinese. Who knows what they put on it or what's in their system now.
And now I have a Chinese bank account! They opened the account, I deposited some cash, and they gave me my ATM card right then and there after I entered my PIN. I immediately walked over to the ATM to make sure the card works and the money was deposited correctly (I wasn't really left with a warm fuzzy feeling after all of the confusion) and ta-dum, it worked. I can now have my paycheck direct deposited, hooray.