Family & Friends,
In America I was just another John Doe in the world of finance. In Kigali I’m a premier customer since I look like a Muzungu and everyone knows they have money falling out of their pockets. My bank has three rooms and I go into the special premier room with its secret handshake. But, setting up your banking is difficult even for us premier upper crust. So far I’ve made four trips downtown and 10 hours setting up my banking. They have online banking, but I’ve never made it on. You put in your username and your password. That qualifies you to get a TAN number. When you hit the TAN icon, they send you a “time sensitive” TAN password number to your phone. “Time sensitive” in Africa has got trouble written all over it. Anyway, you have two minutes to get your TAN number from your phone and put it in. But, alas, when I’m fast enough, it always sends me back to, “Your username please.”
I ordered checks. I asked when they would be ready. They said, “No problem. Just come downtown to the bank and ask if they are ready. If they are, we will give them to you.” I suggested that when the checks arrived, they should send me an email along with another TAN number. They said, “Yes, please, but that is impossible.” On my third visit the checks were ready and looked very professional. I proudly showed them to a seasoned Kigali Muzungu. He gave me a Mona Lisa smile and said, “You do know those are almost worthless?” I patiently explained to him that you put numbers on them and your autograph. Then they are worth cash which Yogi Berra says is as good as money. He then patiently told me that if you receive a check you cannot send it to the bank for your account. You have to bring it to the bank in person and the average wait for a teller is 90 minutes. I was going to tell him that the average wait in the premier line is only 45 minutes, but he didn’t look interested.