Saturday, June 23, 2007

BROUracracy in Uruguay

Banco de la Republica Oriental de Uruguay, better known as BROU is the big government bank here in Uruguay. If your visceral reaction to the sentence above doesn't conjure up visions of machine like efficiency you would be correct. I had the extremely eye-opening experience of going to downtown Montevideo in an attempt to open a local account here.

If you know fuBarrio's disdain for beauracracy, you might ask why he would subject himself to a banking relationship with an institution that so clearly places no value on its clients' time. Well, opening a non-resident account in many countries is difficult or next to impossible, but when trying to find local banking here I found that opening an account in Uruguay even as a resident was very difficult.

In fact on more than a couple of occasions I was told by large Northern hemisphere banks -- ABN Amro, Bank Boston, and Citi bank that they couldn't do anything for me once they found out that I held a US passport.

The more I asked around, the clearer it became that I was really limited as a US citizen to one of a few banks....Big govt sponsored Uruguayan banks, an Israeli bank (that had blown up during the currency crisis) and possibly Lloyds Bank TSB (which incidentally called and mailed docs to my apartment asking for my banking business). I'm not sure who told them:

a.) who i was
b.) i was looking for banking
c.) where i lived, and
d.) my phone number
....but it was an impressive marketing push.

In the end, for a number of ill-fated reasons, I dropped my resistance to opening an account with BROU (aka "Banco Republica"). be continued....

ciao for now,

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