Nov
18
Banks in Penang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you come over to Penang either as a tourist or for a longer term stay due to work or to establish your second home under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) scheme, one of the important things you will want to know is about the banking in Malaysia. Penang, being an international hub for tourists and with a lot of multinational companies hiring expatriates, is full of local and international banks.

International Banks

First of all, do note that if you are staying long term in the island, you will need to open your own bank account in any one of the banks. Even if you are engaged with international banks such as Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (HSBC), Standard Chartered or Scotiabank, you will still need to open a bank account when you are here because there is no link of your overseas account with either of these banks.

Each bank have different sets of regulations, terms and conditions. The focus of these banks are also different, for example, Scotia bank in Malaysia has services with focuses on foreign investment, either in USD or in Euro dollar. There are investment funds in these currency under the Scotia bank as the main attraction, as opposed to HSBC and Standard Chartered. The two latter banks are here for too long, hence the focus have already been more towards local investments and business transactions.

The locations of these banks are scarce in Penang. Scotia bank, for example, has only one branch in Penang, which is far away from the town area, right at the iAvenue commercial area next to B-Suite hotel. Meanwhile, there is also only just one Standard Chartered branch in Penang, at Beach Street, just opposite HSBC. HSBC, being one with a better reputation among people in Penang, has more branches and machines in the island: Downing Street opposite Standard Chartered, one branch in Bayan Bay next to Queensbay Mall, and two ATMs in Gurney Plaza and Penang International Airport.

Citibank is another international bank with an office in Penang. The bank has offered Cheque deposit kiosks in petrol stations around the island, which means that the bank is more interested in collecting payments based on its huge database of credit card and loan account holders. Many people had been pretty displeased by the services given by Citibank, and when the government exercised the practice of collecting RM50 for every credit card a person holds, many people had opt to snip off their Citibank credit cards. There are complaints about the credit card cancellation too, with customers complaining about the complexity of the cancellation process.

United Overseas Bank (UOB) is another bank that can be found in Penang. For a while, the bank targeted on female customers. However, the banks attractive activity is not in par with its customer service, hence the bank is also getting lesser interest from the Penang public.

What about local banks?

There are a lot of banks in Malaysia. The most popular ones include Hong Leong Bank, Public Bank, CIMB and Maybank. Other banks include Affinbank, RHB, AmBank and Alliance Bank. Unlike countries like United States, there is no localised banks which are meant just for that particular state, and all banks are monitored closely by the national bank, Bank Negara. There is another bank, called Bank Simpanan National, a government-owned bank focused solely on savings account, with very low interest payout to account holders.

Each of the banks have their specific reputation. CIMB Bank is known for its highest interest rates payout for fixed deposits, and Public Bank is a favorite among businesses. Hong Leong Bank focuses a lot on loans, while generally Maybank has a bad reputation of banking fraud. It is said that counter services by officers in Maybank and Public Bank are really bad, with a lot of people having to que up and wait, while the banking officers are not exactly a smiling lot. Could it be stress, or could it be just another culture whereby the bank officers believed that they can be unsmiling to customers because they have the biggest share in company accounts? In most instances, customers have no choice but to bear with it because their salary is directly debited into the accounts in these banks.

The bank with the best service is probably CIMB bank. Although the wait is also long in these banks, yet they are courteous enough and still able to smile despite the grumpy faces of customers after the long wait. The officers do engage in small talks just to break the ice with customers, which is a delightful change compared to those of other banks. Even AmBank with its motto of wanting to make customers smile are not able to provide such services.

Banking is not a problem in Penang. Most banks are concentrated around Beach Street, George Town. It is just a matter of how you want it to be.

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