Friday, May 10, 2019

Banco Pichincha

After 3 and 1/2 years living here, I finally opened a bank account. Aren’t I a big boy now? 😉

I only did it because I need my medical insurance premium deducted automatically. Every month I go the bank and pay the premium in person. Because I won’t be able to do that when I move to Colombia, it is time for the account. And since I don’t know if Colombia will be a short or long term thing, I’m keeping my Ecuadorian medical insurance.

The process of opening a bank account here is challenging, at least it is with my personality. When I arrived, three women were each at desk, each desk had a computer, and each cubicle had a person sitting in a chair being helped by one of the women. To look at this, you would think it is like walking into a bank in the US to open an account, but this is where the similarity ends.

Computer Challenged

What still confounds me living here is the strange use of technology. It always takes so long to create any kind of a transaction. Usually it is a combination of paper and computer input, but I feel the computer part is underutilized. At any rate, opening the account went fairly smooth which I credit to the local Ecuadorian who helped me navigate the process.

I came prepared with a copy of my passport, visa, cedula, two months electric bill (not in my name but that doesn’t matter), a copy of my wife’s passport, and a letter of reference from a local Ecuadorian who has an account at that bank. After one and a half hours I had the account opened.

Remember to Breathe

There was a lot of waiting in lines for the different parts of this process…turn in paperwork, account set up, make a deposit, get a bank certificate of the account (to take to the insurance company for automatic withdrawal of monthly premium). I was lucky it only took one and a half hours. When my friends went, it took 4 or 5 hours. It all depends on how many people are ahead of you and how many people are working that day.

It was hard for me not to watch the process and compare it to the efficiency I generally received in the US. I watched customers ahead of me sitting at the desk while the customer service rep clicked away on the computer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. It’s a freaking computer! What are they doing? I wanted to scream, and literally had to talk myself down.


When I left the bank with the certificate verifying my account, I went to IESS, the government health insurance office. More lines, more waiting, but in the end I got the automatic withdrawal set up. The IESS worker warned me that the process doesn’t always work. So, I must be diligent in verifying that the withdrawal is made each month. If it goes unpaid for two months, the insurance is cancelled, and then the process to get insured (which is a 3 month process) must begin again.

Maybe you are wondering how I am going to get funds into this account when I am in Colombia? There is a Banco Pichincha in Medellin. I am hoping I can make deposits there. I guess I will find out later this year.


I was walking on the road this week and came across this snake. It is only the second snake I have seen since living here. It was dead but still very colorful.

Weather Report

What would a blog post of mine be without some mention of the weather? It is changing. The clouds started showing up in the mornings and back again in the early afternoons. There seems to be a definite “window” of blue sky and sunshine now. Enjoying it until it’s gone.