Banks’ Discrimination Against Foreign Nationals Persists

As Taiwan strives to become a more inclusive society for foreign residents, it is heartening to see the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) working to level the playing field in the banking sector. AmCham recognizes and appreciates the FSC’s efforts to make the banking sector more accessible to foreign residents. The push for bilingual services and the relaxation of certain requirements for opening accounts are steps in the right direction. 

But despite these positive steps, many banks in Taiwan still engage in discriminatory practices against foreign nationals. For instance, a number of banks do not allow foreign residents to use Line Pay, a popular mobile payment platform. Additionally, as reported in this issue of TOPICS, foreign nationals are required to apply for credit cards in person, and many banks still refuse to issue credit cards to foreign residents without a local guarantor, even if they meet the required criteria. 

These discriminatory practices are counterproductive and deter residents from further investment and spending in Taiwan. Anyone living and working in Taiwan should be eligible for credit cards as long as they meet the necessary requirements, taking into account the person’s financial status, the purpose of the credit, the (re)payment sources, the protection for the bank in terms of the borrower’s assets, and the perspective of the borrower’s future resources. 

Furthermore, foreign residents with two Taiwan ID cards (an Alien Residence Certificate or a Permanent Alien Residence Certificate and a National Health Insurance Card) should not also be asked to provide their passports when opening accounts or applying for credit cards. This requirement is burdensome and unnecessary, perpetuating the notion that foreigners are not to be trusted. 

Foreign-owned businesses also face obstacles in obtaining loans. To qualify for loans, they need a local guarantor, making it more challenging to secure funding. This practice discourages foreign investors and businesses and limits the growth of the domestic economy. 

Foreign nationals residing and working in Taiwan make valuable contributions to the economy and society. Discrimination against them undermines Taiwan’s efforts to attract foreign talent and investment – treating foreign nationals with suspicion and subjecting them to unfair practices will only discourage them from staying in Taiwan and investing in its future. 

At a time when Taiwan is pushing to attract foreign talent, it is even more critical to act not only in the best interests of its citizenry but also that of the foreign residents contributing to society and the economy. Taiwan must thus continue to work toward becoming a more inclusive society for foreign residents and eliminate discriminatory practices against foreign nationals. The FSC should continue to introduce policies that level the playing field in the banking sector, and banks should use fair criteria to determine eligibility for credit cards and loans. By doing so, Taiwan can foster a more welcoming environment that encourages investment and benefits citizens and foreign nationals alike.