I've been in China just over 2 months now and finally set up a bank account. There was initial resistance, simply because I had succeeded in budgeting with cash and was proud of my ability to do so.
During this time, and during previous financial accomplishments, I've noticed its most likely to succeed when I had no other options as a fall back. Why? Because when I permitted myself to have a fallback, I used it. When there was no other options, I made damn sure I stuck to the original plan!
Setting up the account wasn't much trouble. I walked into the Bank of China branch across the street and was able communicate what I wanted. After sitting at the booth for what seemed to be 30+ minutes, entering the confirmation pin numerous times and signing the agreement having absolutely no idea what it said, with my signature printed, I was handed a new access card. Afterwards, the lady who helped communicate my request, set up my online banking. Banks here have no monthly fees, unlimited transactions and a ton of branch locations! This is the perfect combination of why I was looking for in Canada, but couldn't find.
Finance seems to be, I dunno, "more advanced" here in that it's more liberated. For example, the main social media platform is WeChat, it ties in multiple bank accounts and allows for transferring money to shop and contacts seamlessly. When setting up my bank account the bank used two-step verification by text message on the spot, and then additional measures for setting up online access within the branch.
Having a brief look at the online site, their layout seemed much more simplified than even the Canadian banks. Things like transfers between personal accounts, inter-bank accounts, external banks and international banks are all listed easily on the side panel. The BOC (Bank of China) even has branches in Toronto and Vancouver — the only cities I could see myself visiting in Canada.
BOC incorporates ApplePay, though I'm hesitant to use it because I'm working to save money and cool fin-tech payment options would increase my likelihood to spend frivolously.
Another reason I'd prefer to not have opened an account is because I already have too many accounts with companies. Recently, I've closed: RBC, Netflix, Rogers, Manulife, Questrade and a few others which I forget. I'm working on closing my TD bank account since they charge a monthly fee. Once my last debt is paid off, I'll close the accounts there. For all my talk of de-cluttering my life, I certainly need to do so digitally.