The Bank of Polandian

I’m opening a bank. I don’t really want to, but the peer pressure is becoming unbearable. Bankers are taking over my street. I don’t know what they want, or how far their willing to go, but I’m scared. More than once I’ve said to myself, “There are an awful lot of banks on this street,” and then thought no more about it. Yesterday I decided to count. There are 18 of them. Eighteen banks on one street. And my street isn’t unusual. I considered counting the number of banks in the center of Krakow, but I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to complete the task. The minute you turn your back another one of the buggers pops up.

Banks on ul. Karmelicka, Kraków
(complete with insightful comments about their names):

Nordea (Vikings?)
mBank (Marketing Exec: “What we need is name something like ‘iPod’ or ‘eMail’)
Allianz Bank
Lukas Bank
Powszechnydom Kredytowy
Get in Bank (Bizarre name, lovely people)
Noble Bank
Bank BPH (I love these old-style Polish banks with their mysterious acronyms)
GE Money Bank (aha, so it’s a money bank!)
Alior Bank (new kid on the block, you’ve probably already been bored rigid by their ads)
Polbank EFG (Every Fool Gouged?)
BZ WBK (my favorite obscure-acronym bank, sounds like a South Carolina bluegrass station)
Eurobank (again)
Citi Bank
Bank Pekao SA (never heard of them)
Millennium Bank (the one thousandth bank in Poland?)

They’re getting sneaky too. The other week I went to pop into my local 24-hour shop only to discover it had been converted into a bank in the few days since I was last in there. I went in willing to spend 20 zeds on beer and just barely avoided walking out with a 200,000 Swiss Franc mortgage. I’m sure Swiss Franc mortgages are wonderful things, but they do nothing to slake a Friday-evening thirst. A few days ago I peered into the window of the local big-screen-tv-and-other-things-you-can’t-afford shop only to discover that it too had fallen under the evil sway of the bankers. I spent a good few seconds looking directly at posters with percentage signs and asterisks all over them, it wasn’t pleasant.


“Six cans of Żywiec and a packet of peanuts please”

This is why I’ve decided to open the Bank of Polandian. If I don’t do it now, you’ll click over here one day soon only to discover that somebody else has done it for us. Scatts, Pawel and myself will never be heard from again and you will be forced to read about Kredyt hipoteczny or some such nonsense. As a writer I have limited experience of money. I had some once, and it was very pretty, but it made my trousers heavy and didn’t seem to do anything so I swapped it for sixteen cases of Johnnie Walker Black Label. As I understand it banks work like this:

1. You give me some pieces of paper that are promises to pay a certain amount (I believe they call it currency)

2. I multiply the numbers on the pieces of paper you have given me by ten and ‘lend’ this amount to other people.

3. The people I ‘lend’ this money to pay me interest and buy things with it.

4. The people they buy things from give pieces of paper to their banks, who then multiply it by ten and lend it to other people.

5. Everybody gets rich.

Sounds simple enough to me. I’m willing to forget about the actual pieces of paper. Just leave a comment depositing ‘x’ amount of zloty in the Bank of Polandian, and we’ll go from there. Loan applications are also welcome.

In about six months we can go bankrupt, blame China, and pocket a few billion from the IMF.

The Bank of Polandian
We care about your money and have good-looking blonde children

*reality may or may not differ

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24 thoughts on “The Bank of Polandian

  1. Stan the man says:

    Same s*** in Warsaw. I have 7 branches in my neighborhood (300m radius – GE, mBank, PekaoSA, Lukas, Eurobank, Millenium, PKO BP). It’s more inconvenient to buy bread nowadays (4 groceries).

    The Bank of Polandian? If interests were paid in Żywiec, I would move my assets :)

  2. Pawel says:

    Żywiec, Jamie, are you taking notes?:)

  3. ansien says:

    And what’s on the second place just after bank? I can bet it is a pharmacy!:)

  4. The same thing is happening here in Wroclaw. Every new building houses about six new banks. It’s insane.

  5. Pawel says:

    Don’t worry – when they all go bankrupt and get out of the neighbourhood there’ll be plenty of space for new cafes:)

  6. island1 says:

    Stan & Christian: So it’s a nationwide phenomenon. I was afraid of this. Interest will be paid in eŻywiec; just like old-fashioned Żywiec but more convenient for your busy lifestyle.

    Ansien: Actually I think it’s shoe shops, but I’m too scared to count them.

    Pawel: I just noticed yesterday that a pub has closed down, could it be another bank I wonder?

  7. stefonic says:

    may I borrow 300,000 euro to build some homes for sale in wrocław?

  8. scatts says:

    Give it 10 years or so and that list of banks will be down to about five after a string of mergers and acquisitions. Right now the race seems to be to start a new bank and open loads of branches then sit back and wait for the offers to come in. Alior have only been going what, a year at most, and there are already talks of selling up! I’m not sure how the current economic situation affects their original plans but I don’t suppose it has helped.

    I have absolutely no trust whatsoever in any of these Mickey Mouse banks that are being created weekly. I have every confidence that they are being run by the sort of sharp-practice idiots that got us into this mess in the first place. Highly leveraged and based on little by way of common sense. I’m waiting for the first one to go pop and then watch the domino effect come into play.

    Of course, most of the branches currently on the high streets will be surplus to requirements when we’re left with just a few big ones as nobody is going to want 3 branches within 10 minutes walk of each other. In the meantime, we’ll keep losing shops we use and need because any bank is able to pay more rent than your beer and sandwiches store.

    Noble Bank is an interesting addition. Shows the strength of the “personal banking” sector, i.e. shows how many people here have a lot of money. Present company not included.

    So. Polandian Bank. Why the hell not! I’d actually quite enjoy running a truly responsible bank. Might not make as much uber-profit as the silly ones but probably better than what I’m paid right now.

    stefonic – we’ll need to see a business plan and preferably one that predicts decreasing house prices for the next five years followed by very slow growth after that. Also one that shows you have a proper architect on board, not one of those Polish housing specialists that places dirty great columns in the middle of the hallway or thinks you need enough room to hang a full-scale model of a Mark IV de Havilland Mosquito in the air space above your TV set!!

  9. misiek says:

    I live just off ul. Zwierzyniecka in Kraków, and have seen exactly the same thing happen, especially after they planted that huge concrete klocek of a residential ‘haven’ complete with helicopter landing pads… My rating at BIK (Polish credit rating agency) is permanently f****d so I’d rather they reinstall the brilliant Vietnamese restaurant that was taken over by some nasty fashion outlet by the Off Licence. Oh, but if the Polandian bank wants to lend me some dosh I’d be willing to send you my account details!

  10. misiek says:

    And for the record: 200 metres on Zwierzyniecka gives you the following possibilities to get up to your eyeballs in debt:

    PKO Bank Polski
    Polbank EFG (Greek!)
    ING Bank Śląski

    and I’m sure there are more, but I’m not going to check for you right now. You get the picture.

  11. John says:

    Yes, the amount of banks in Poland is ridiculous! I am in the process of moving to Krakow, and was comparing banks last week: They all charge you for everything, and none of them have decent service. The consolidation in this industry still has to come in Poland (like in Western Europe). Instead I focused on the ones with English internet banking, and free cash machines. For me it’s stupid that you have to pay to use a cash machine that does not belong to your bank! At this moment BZ WBK looks like the best contender…

  12. Helder says:

    @John: I recommend you Millenium bank! I have accounts in both WBK BZ and Millenium. First, I had a lot of problems with my WBK BZ debit card! And second, Millenium is a Portuguese (like me) so your money is welcome! ;)
    For me is also strange to have to go to yours bank ATM… (“why can we all be friends??”) but I also live in Krakow and there is always an ATM on the next corner!
    About Karmelicka… I always wanted to count how many but the Trams are always full… I bet in Rynek there are more…

  13. boattown_guest says:

    There are 3 or 4 (or 5) banks in the building in which I work. The lady who knows everything here told me that one of them is going to move again. Maybe they just want to suit their customers’ needs- one day we are here, and the other- over there.
    I’m quite afraid, but, ok, I’ll write it: I don’t like beer. What about eSheridan’s?

  14. island1 says:

    Scatts: A responsible bank? Where’s the fun in that? I’ve spoken to my imaginary bakers and they’ve agreed to advance me some imaginary seed capital to the tune of 100,000 euros. This gives us an operational liquidity (just made that up, sounds good huh?) of 1 million. Stefonic may have his 300 grand on the grounds that I think models of Mark IV Mosquitos will be the consumer choice of the coming decade, going forward.

    misiek: Hello neighbor. I’m seriously wondering how many banks branches there are in Krakow now. 200, 300, more?

    John: I use BZ WBK cash machines because they are the friendliest. I’m sure that helps you a lot. Good luck with the move and hope you’ll drop in here from time to time.

    Helder: Now you know. Unless they’ve opened a few more in the fast three days. I’ll have to check.

    Boattown: What’s Sheridan’s?

  15. Pawel says:

    I use one of the banks coloured in green. There it’s free to use the green cash machines, while they charge you for everything else. Recently I was in Gdansk and in need to use a cash machine: although there were tens in all colours: pink, blue, navy, orange, yellow, purple and white – there was no green!

    So I used the blue one, and how surprised was I when it asked me for my telephone number (!!!) after havng asked the pin number. What is that? I was like, will you not give me my money if don’t give you my number or what?

  16. boattown_guest says:

    island1: Sheridan’s is a recently created liqueur, produced in Dublin by Thomas Sheridan & Sons.
    It is uniquely bottled, consisting of two separate sections, separated by glass, but fused together. One section is filled with a black liqueur, consisting of coffee and whiskey flavors, the other is filled with a white liqueur of milk white chocolate.
    When pouring into a low ball glass, the white liqueur should be gently floated on top of the black liqueur.

    source: Wiki:)

  17. Ewa says:

    Island, if you have gone to the bakers, they had to _bake_ you this capital (half-baked would be definitely unwholesome).

    I second your observations from another (pretty little) town, where the horrible Vikings just evaporated my favorite shoe shop on the main road to railway station.

  18. island1 says:

    Ewa: ‘Bakers’ doh!

  19. Merle says:

    Hi – great site guys :D Love to read it here in Glasgow

    To Ansien – pharmacies next to banks make perfect sense. Imagine how helpul they are after banks’ clients suffer medical condition learning their money are gone or seeing new exchange rate of Swiss Franc ;P

    Back in Poland I was in “green” bank (BTW – BZ WBK is an Irish bank) – Poznan was great with the amount of ATMs but just try to leave Wielkopolska and you’re “zasrubkowany” (wasn’t sure if I could use proper word here).

    But Poland’s still much better than UK if you respect your Data Protection – here you can use ANY ATM of ANY bank to check your bank balance/statement/overdraft.
    Oh – forgot – UK is a Big Brother land

  20. island1 says:

    Thanks Merle.

    So, BZ WBK is Irish! I’m amazed.

  21. wu says:

    As long as they don’t touch Karmelicka 16 and Kinh Bac II I’d still have a reason to visit that street :D

    And Pekao SA is one of two biggest banks in Poland (the next is PKO BP).

  22. Pawel says:

    Merle – I thought Her Majesty was rather a Big Sister:))

  23. […] [Comments for Polandian] Comment on The Bank of Polandian by Pawel […]

  24. Merle says:

    Pawel – HRM is more like Almighty Granma ;P

    Re Big Brother – you’ve probaly heard about Google mapping British streets where you can clearly see people’s faces – so I’ve also read that in London there are already 160 CCTV cameras and in the whole UK it is estimated there are ca 4,8 MILLION cameras.

    Re PKO – it might be the biggest bank IN Poland but it also not quite belongs to Polish sharers only ;P

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