01 November 2005

Brilliant banking

Yesterday I was fully introduced to the brilliance of the Icelandic banking system. The online stuff here is so much more integrated than anything I’ve ever seen in the States. Since everything here operates by kennitala (the all-important number) your bills are automatically linked to your bank account with it. Even if someone messes up the address, if they have your kennitala correct, you will see it on your banking website when you log in. From there it’s a two-second procedure to actually pay the thing. Your salary is also deposited straight in there, with your payslip appearing as an e-document should you wish to see how everything is broken down. Need to pay someone back for any reason? That’s also a cinch if you know their kennitala and their bank account number. Type those in, put the amount you want to send and a comment if you like, and it’s done. The system even remembers the last 10 people you transferred to. They also receive the money instantly.

If you do actually want to interface with a person, that is also far superior to the American system, with helpful, efficient staff right down the hill from where we work. I keep thinking of the hoo-ra banks in the States are making of how easy it is to pay your bills online. They don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’ when it comes to that- I continued to pay several of my bills with actual paper checks after trying to set some of them up and discovering that I had to go through strange-o online brokering and had to send checks as verification of my bank account number. Given the ease and efficiency of the systems here, I find it particularly ironic that this summer J was unable to make a purchase on Hotwire with his Icelandic credit card. When he complained to the customer service, they said they couldn’t verify the security and quality of the Icelandic network. How little they know.

Ship sighting: A busy day ahead here. Although I won’t be able to see most of them arriving and departing, I learned a little about two of the cargo ships leaving this evening, one called Flinterzijl and the other called Onego Runner. Both are owned by Dutch companies operating in Rotterdam, which I guess does a lot of business with Iceland, since I know I’ve seen the Onego Runner on the list before (and here I thought it was all Eimskip/Samskip all the time). The websites of these companies are a great place to learn the different terms for cargo ship classifications, like apparently the Runner is a Multipurpose Singledecker/Tweendecker with MacGregor folding type hatch covers. There are also ice classifications, as can be seen in the Flinterzijl write-up. I guess the Finnish-Swedish 1A class is good for the northern seas. I have no idea when this information will come in handy, but I figure sometime I’ll run into some sea captain and I can impress him with all my cargo ship lingo.

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